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Microscope for Simultaneous Single Molecule AFM and Fluorescence Measurements

Ames Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary
Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers have developed an integrated single molecule atomic force fluorescence microscope (smAFM-FM) that can perform multiple single molecule measurements.
Proof of concept has been demonstrated using the smAFM-FM instrument to measure force-dependent optical properties of nano-scale objects, and ISU is seeking commercialization partners for this technology.
Single molecule fluorescence resonance energy Transfer (FRET) and single molecule force measurements using atomic force microscope (AFM) are two widely used and powerful techniques that have advanced research in the biological sciences. However each of these techniques suffers from limitations in terms of the types of single molecule measurements they can perform.  For instance, it is difficult to examine structural changes in molecules as they interact using a stand-alone AFM, while when using FRET alone, it is difficult to monitor optical changes in materials when forces are applied.  To overcome these limitations, ISU and Ames Laboratory researchers have developed a microscope that combines a single molecule AFM-FRET approach to study molecules and nanoscale objects.  This new instrument enables multiple single molecule measurements, including AFM-FRET intensity and lifetime measurements, AFM-fluorescence intensity and spectral measurements, AFM-photon antibunching experiments, and AFM-Raman measurements.  The smAFM-FM has potential applications for life science research (such as determining the structure and dynamics of molecular interactions of biomolecules), drug discovery (such as direct observation of drug delivery and drug-target interactions in vitro and in cells or tissues), characterization of the optical properties of nanomaterials such as nanowires, semiconductor nanocrystals, nanotubes, etc., material science, and the optical MEMs industry (design of optical switches, pressure sensors, disk-drive, heads and biosensors). The utility of the smAFM-FM has been demonstrated by measuring the force dependence of the optical properties of CdS/CdSe tetrapod, an important semiconductor nanocrystal.

• Combines the features and benefits of AFM and FRET microscopy to apply forces on single molecules or nanoscale objects and simultaneously monitor their structure, dynamics and optical properties.

More Information
Single molecule/nanoscale object measurements for research and industrial applications that include life science, drug discovery, material science, nanotechnology, and optical MEMS.
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 8,656,510
System, apparatus, and method for simultaneous single molecule atomic force microscopy and fluorescence measurements
An apparatus, system, and method of integrating atomic force microscopy (AFM) and fluorescence microscopy (FM). One particular application is to simultaneous single molecular fluorescence with AFM force spectroscopy. Included is a methodology to align the AFM tip and a molecule or other nanoscale object with high accuracy.
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated

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To: Jay Bjerke<>