Experimental Techniques

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 551–561 | Cite as

An AFM Dynamic Contact Model with Finite Thickness Correction to Study Micro-Rheology of Biological Cells

  • V. Managuli
  • S. RoyEmail author


One of the major sources of error in Atomic Force Microscopy based Force Spectroscopic studies is bottom substrate effect, which comes due to assumption of infinite sample thickness. In the present work, anew experimentally validated mathematical correction for finite thickness of thesample is incorporated into a dynamic indentation model. This model is an extension of Sneddon’s static indentation contact model developed for conical tip indenters by incorporating the tip geometric effects, correction to hydrodynamic drag, viscoelastic nature of the sample and its finite thickness. The new model is applied to extract the viscoelastic properties of primary mesenchymal stem cells (MSC’s) extracted from human bone marrow and HCT-116 aggressive epithelial colorectal cancer cells. The micro-rheological studies indicated the presence of profound influence of infinite thickness assumption depending upon indentation depth and sample thickness at the point of indentation. The present model nullified this error and provided a better estimate of the rheological properties. The tests were conducted over a wide frequency bandwidth (0.5 to 126 Hz) and frequency dependent material properties were analyzed using power law structural damping model. It was found that MSC’s are stiffer and less viscous in nature compared to cancer cells.


Viscoelasticity Stem cell study Colon cancer cell study Atomic Force Microscopy Dynamic indentation 



We thank Dr. Sudeep Sen (Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry, AIIMS, India), Research scholars Sumedha Saluja and Aditi Bhattacharya for providing cell samples, obtaining necessary ethical clearances and providing media for conducting AFM experiments on Mesenchymal stem cells.

Supplementary material

40799_2018_268_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2.3 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 2371 kb)
40799_2018_268_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (956 kb)
ESM 2 (PDF 955 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Society for Experimental Mechanics, Inc 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied MechanicsIndian Institute of Technology DelhiNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing EngineeringManipal Institute of Technology, Manipal Academy of Higher EducationManipalIndia

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