Application of Acoustic Techniques for Characterization of Biological Samples

  • Bernhard R. Tittmann
  • Anne Ebert
Part of the NanoScience and Technology book series (NANO)


The atomic force microscope (AFM) is emerging as a powerful tool in cell biology. Originally developed for high-resolution imaging purposes, the AFM also has unique capabilities as a nano-indenter to probe the dynamic viscoelastic material properties of living cells in culture. In particular, AFM elastography combines imaging and indentation modalities to map the spatial distribution of cell mechanical properties, which in turn reflect the structure and function of the underlying cytoskeleton. Such measurements have contributed to our understanding of cell mechanics and cell biology and appear to be sensitive to the presence of disease in individual cells. Examples of applications and considerations on the effective capability of ultrasonic AFM techniques on biological samples (both mammalian and plant) are reported in this chapter. Included in the discussion is scanning near-field ultrasound holography an acoustic technique which has been used to image structure and in particular nanoparticles inside cells. For illustration an example that is discussed in some detail is a technique for rapid in vitro single-cell elastography. The technique is based on atomic force acoustic microscopy (AFAM) but (1) requires only a few minutes of scan time, (2) can be used on live cells briefly removed from most of the nutrient fluid, (3) does negligible harm or damage to the cell, (4) provides semi-quantitative information on the distribution of modulus across the cell, and (5) yields data with 1–10 nm resolution. The technique is shown to enable rapid assessment of physical/biochemical signals on the cell modulus and contributes to current understanding of cell mechanics.


Hydrated Albumin Ferrite Immobilization Sine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



B.R.T. was partially supported as part of the Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation (CLSF) an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Award Number DE-SC0001090.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Engineering Science and MechanicsThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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