Array atomic force microscopy for real-time multiparametric analysis

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Mar 26;116(13):5872-5877. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1813518116. Epub 2019 Mar 8.


Nanoscale multipoint structure-function analysis is essential for deciphering the complexity of multiscale biological and physical systems. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) allows nanoscale structure-function imaging in various operating environments and can be integrated seamlessly with disparate probe-based sensing and manipulation technologies. Conventional AFMs only permit sequential single-point analysis; widespread adoption of array AFMs for simultaneous multipoint study is challenging owing to the intrinsic limitations of existing technological approaches. Here, we describe a prototype dispersive optics-based array AFM capable of simultaneously monitoring multiple probe-sample interactions. A single supercontinuum laser beam is utilized to spatially and spectrally map multiple cantilevers, to isolate and record beam deflection from individual cantilevers using distinct wavelength selection. This design provides a remarkably simplified yet effective solution to overcome the optical cross-talk while maintaining subnanometer sensitivity and compatibility with probe-based sensors. We demonstrate the versatility and robustness of our system on parallel multiparametric imaging at multiscale levels ranging from surface morphology to hydrophobicity and electric potential mapping in both air and liquid, mechanical wave propagation in polymeric films, and the dynamics of living cells. This multiparametric, multiscale approach provides opportunities for studying the emergent properties of atomic-scale mechanical and physicochemical interactions in a wide range of physical and biological networks.

Keywords: atomic force microscopy; dispersive optics; multiparametric analysis; nanobiosensing; nanoimaging.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force / methods*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / ultrastructure
  • Nanotechnology / methods
  • Optical Imaging / methods
  • Polymers / chemistry
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Surface Properties


  • Polymers