Quantitative biomolecular imaging by dynamic nanomechanical mapping
The ability to ‘see’ down to nanoscale has always been one of the most challenging obstacles for researchers to address fundamental questions. For many years, researchers have been developing scanning probe microscopy techniques to improve imaging capability at nanoscale. Among them, atomic force microscopy (AFM) has received considerable attention, which allows probing topography of biological species at real space under physiological environment. Importantly, force measurements in AFM enable researchers to reveal not only the topography but also the relevant physical–chemical properties. AFM-based dynamic nanomechanical mapping (DNM) provides insights into the functions of biological systems by the interpretation of ‘force’, which are inaccessible by most of the other analytic techniques. This review is aiming to shed light on these recently developed AFM-based DNM techniques for biomolecular imaging, and discuss the relative applications in biological research from the nanomechanical point of view.