Multiscale 3D-printing of microfluidic AFM cantilevers†
Microfluidic atomic force microscopy (AFM) cantilever probes have all the functionalities of a standard AFM cantilever along with fluid pipetting. They have a channel inside the cantilever and an aperture at the tip. Such probes are useful for precise fluid manipulation at a desired location, for example near or inside cells. They are typically made by complex microfabrication process steps, resulting in expensive probes. Here, we used two different 3D additive manufacturing techniques, stereolithography and two-photon polymerization, to directly print ready-to-use microfluidic AFM cantilever probes. This approach has considerably reduced the fabrication time and increased the design freedom. One of the probes, 564 μm long, 30 μm wide, 30 μm high, with a 25 μm diameter channel and 2.5 μm wall thickness had a spring constant of 3.7 N m−1 and the polymer fabrication material had an elastic modulus of 4.2 GPa. Using these 3D printed probes, AFM imaging of a surface, puncturing of the cell membrane, and aspiration at the single cell level have been demonstrated.