Exploring the nano-surface of collagenous and other fibrotic tissues with AFM
Patrickios, Costas S.
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Atomic force microscope (AFM) is a powerful and invaluable tool for imaging and probing the mechanical properties of biological samples at the nanometric scale. The importance of nano-scale characterization and nanomechanics of soft biological tissues is becoming widely appreciated, and AFM offers unique advantages in this direction. In this chapter, we describe the procedure to collect data sets (imaging and mechanical properties measurement) of collagen gels and tumor tissues. We provide step-by-step instructions throughout the procedure, from sample preparation to cantilever calibration, data acquisition, analysis, and visualization, using two commercial AFM systems (PicoPlus and Cypher ES) and software that accompanied the AFM systems and/or are freeware available (WSxM, AtomicJ). Our protocols are written specifically for these two systems and the mentioned software; however, most of the general concepts can be readily translated to other AFM systems and software.