Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors


Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Not-so-precious: Stripping gold from AFM probes allows better measurement of picoscale forces

This is an artist's conception of JILA's advance in atomic force microscope (AFM) design. To measure picoscale forces in liquid, a AFM probe attaches to a molecule such as DNA and pulls, and the deflection of the probe is measured. JILA researchers found that probes with the gold coating removed (purple in the illustration) make measurements that are 10 times more stable and precise than those made with conventional gold-coated probes. Gold helps reflect the laser light but it can also potentially crack, age, and creep, which degrades its mechanical properties and reduces measurement precision.

Credit: Baxley/JILA
This is an artist's conception of JILA's advance in atomic force microscope (AFM) design. To measure picoscale forces in liquid, a AFM probe attaches to a molecule such as DNA and pulls, and the deflection of the probe is measured. JILA researchers found that probes with the gold coating removed (purple in the illustration) make measurements that are 10 times more stable and precise than those made with conventional gold-coated probes. Gold helps reflect the laser light but it can also potentially crack, age, and creep, which degrades its mechanical properties and reduces measurement precision.

Credit: Baxley/JILA

Abstract:
Gold is not necessarily precious—at least not as a coating on atomic force microscope (AFM) probes.

JILA researchers found that removing an AFM probe's gold coating—until now considered helpful—greatly improved force measurements performed in a liquid, the medium favored for biophysical studies such as stretching DNA or unfolding proteins. As described in Nano Letters,* stripping the gold from the diving-board-shaped probe, or cantilever, with a brief chemical bath improved the precision and stability of force measurements about 10-fold. The advance is expected to quickly and broadly benefit the fields of biophysics and nanoscience.

Not-so-precious: Stripping gold from AFM probes allows better measurement of picoscale forces

Boulder, CO | Posted on June 28th, 2012

JILA is a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder.

"What I find interesting about this experiment is it's so incredibly simple. It takes a minute to strip the gold off a commercial cantilever and you get a 10-fold improvement in force precision," says NIST/JILA physicist Thomas Perkins.

To measure forces at the molecular scale, an AFM's cantilever attaches to a molecule with its pointed end and pulls; the resulting deflection of the cantilever is measured. The forces are in the realm of piconewtons (pN), or trillionths of a newton. A unit of force, one newton is roughly the weight of a small apple.

Cantilevers are typically made of silicon or silicon nitride and coated with gold on both sides to reflect light. Perkins discovered the gold coating was a problem while his research group was probing the folding and unfolding of protein molecules over time periods of seconds to minutes. The group previously improved AFM position stability** and holds a related patent,*** but then discovered that the force was drifting. "It's counterintuitive," says Perkins. "Everyone has assumed you needed gold for the enhanced reflectivity, when in fact, gold is clearly the dominant source of force drift on short and long time scales."

"Gold exhibits a sort of complex elastic property in high-precision measurements," Perkins explains. "When you bend gold, it creeps a little bit, like silly putty. Further, the lore in the field is that gold can crack, it can age, and molecules can bind to it—all of which may change its mechanical properties. This problem is even worse when you do biological experiments in liquid."

AFM force measurements in liquid typically have had precision (error range) of plus or minus 5 to 10 pN. By stripping the gold JILA researchers reduced the error by 10 times, to about 0.5 pN for measurements on both short and long timescales. Researchers can now precisely measure fast processes, such as proteins folding and unfolding 50 times per second, over long time periods of several minutes. Significantly, the results were achieved with commercially available microscopes and cantilevers, so the practical benefits can be applied quickly for any AFM force measurements and imaging. AFM can now compete with optical traps and magnetic tweezers in terms of sensitivity.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and NIST.

* A.B. Churnside, R.M.A. Sullan, D.M. Nguyen, S.O. Case, M.S. Bull, G.M. King and T.T. Perkins. Routine and timely sub-piconewton force stability and precision for biological applications of atomic force microscopy. Nano Letters. Published online June 13.

** See the Mar. 24, 2009, NIST Tech Beat article, "Making a Point: Picoscale Stability in a Room-Temperature AFM" at www.nist.gov/public_affairs/tech-beat/tb20090324.cfm#afm.

*** U.S. Patent 7,928,409, April 19, 2011, Real-time, active picometer-scale alignment, stabilization and registration in one or more dimensions, T.T. Perkins, G.M. King and A.R. Carter.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Laura Ost

303-497-4880

Copyright © National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Engineers create a better way to boil water -- with industrial, electronics applications May 5th, 2016

Clues on the path to a new lithium battery technology: Charging produces highly reactive singlet oxygen in lithium air batteries May 5th, 2016

Unique nano-capsules promise the targeted drug delivery: Russian scientists created unique nano-capsules for the targeted drug delivery May 5th, 2016

Molybdenum disulfide holds promise for light absorption: Rice researchers probe light-capturing properties of atomically thin MoS2 May 5th, 2016

FEI Launches Apreo – Industry-Leading Versatile, High-Performance SEM: The Apreo SEM provides high-resolution surface information with excellent contrast, and the flexibility to accommodate a large range of samples, applications and conditions May 4th, 2016

Imaging

Oxford Instruments Asylum Research and McGill University Announce the McGill AFM Summer School and Workshop, May 12-13, 2016 May 4th, 2016

The intermediates in a chemical reaction photographed 'red-handed' Researchers at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country have for the first time succeeded in imaging all the steps in a complex organic reaction and have resolved the mechanisms that explain it May 4th, 2016

New tool allows scientists to visualize 'nanoscale' processes May 4th, 2016

Laboratories

Exploring phosphorene, a promising new material April 29th, 2016

NREL finds nanotube semiconductors well-suited for PV systems April 27th, 2016

NREL theory establishes a path to high-performance 2-D semiconductor devices April 27th, 2016

Brookhaven's Oleg Gang Named a Battelle 'Inventor of the Year': Recognized for work using DNA to guide and regulate the self-assembly of nanoparticles into clusters and arrays with controllable properties April 25th, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Engineers create a better way to boil water -- with industrial, electronics applications May 5th, 2016

Clues on the path to a new lithium battery technology: Charging produces highly reactive singlet oxygen in lithium air batteries May 5th, 2016

Molybdenum disulfide holds promise for light absorption: Rice researchers probe light-capturing properties of atomically thin MoS2 May 5th, 2016

New tool allows scientists to visualize 'nanoscale' processes May 4th, 2016

Announcements

Engineers create a better way to boil water -- with industrial, electronics applications May 5th, 2016

Clues on the path to a new lithium battery technology: Charging produces highly reactive singlet oxygen in lithium air batteries May 5th, 2016

Unique nano-capsules promise the targeted drug delivery: Russian scientists created unique nano-capsules for the targeted drug delivery May 5th, 2016

Molybdenum disulfide holds promise for light absorption: Rice researchers probe light-capturing properties of atomically thin MoS2 May 5th, 2016

Tools

Oxford Instruments Asylum Research and McGill University Announce the McGill AFM Summer School and Workshop, May 12-13, 2016 May 4th, 2016

The intermediates in a chemical reaction photographed 'red-handed' Researchers at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country have for the first time succeeded in imaging all the steps in a complex organic reaction and have resolved the mechanisms that explain it May 4th, 2016

New tool allows scientists to visualize 'nanoscale' processes May 4th, 2016

FEI Launches Apreo – Industry-Leading Versatile, High-Performance SEM: The Apreo SEM provides high-resolution surface information with excellent contrast, and the flexibility to accommodate a large range of samples, applications and conditions May 4th, 2016

Patents/IP/Tech Transfer/Licensing

New tool allows scientists to visualize 'nanoscale' processes May 4th, 2016

System creates on-demand 'nanotube forests,' has potential industry applications April 20th, 2016

Smaller. Cheaper. Better. Iron nitride transformers developed at Sandia could boost energy storage options March 28th, 2016

Correction: Solar fuels: Protective layer for the 'artificial leaf' March 22nd, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic