Imaging and probing cell mechanical properties with the atomic force microscope

Methods Mol Biol. 2006;319:331-61. doi: 10.1007/978-1-59259-993-6_17.


This chapter describes the use of the atomic force microscope (AFM) to probe and map out regional variations in apparent elastic properties of living cells. The importance of mechanics in the field of cell biology is becoming more widely appreciated, and the AFM has unique advantages for cell mechanics applications. However, care must be taken in the acquisition, analysis, Band interpretation of AFM indentation data. To help make this powerful technique accessible to a broad range of investigators, detailed procedures are provided for all stages of the AFM experiment from sample preparation through data analysis and visualization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Elasticity
  • Endothelial Cells / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force* / instrumentation
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force* / methods
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Surface Properties