Flex-Bio — AFM for biology and life science

Flex-Bio system overview

The atomic force microscope that combines versatility and performance for biology and life science

Techniques and applications for life science research
A design that opens up entirely new possibilities
Discover all the practical details that really matter in daily use
Discuss your application with one of our application scientists

A key success factor in life science research is the combination of multiple techniques. With the Flex-Bio, Nanosurf's Bio AFM, you can combine the liquid AFM imaging, spectroscopy and nanomanipulation capacity of this system with the high-end optical techniques available for inverted microscopes.

Techniques and applications for life science research

Flex-Bio comes with manual and motorized stages for seamless integration on Zeiss, Olympus, Nikon and Leica inverted microscopes or with standalone stages. On the inverted microscope, optical and AFM data can be correlated, as shown here for internal limiting membrane (ILM) of the human retina.

Bio AFM for life science applications
(A) Bright field image of isolated ILM in a physiological buffer. (B) Fluorescence image of the same section showing anti-laminin staining. (C) AFM topograph of a subsection of the ILM; also shown as overlay in B. (D) AFM stiffness measurements (stiffness map) of the same subsection. The color for each point represents the local stiffness value as calculated from force curves recorded at the respective positions. (E) Histogram of the stiffness data shown in D. (F) Typical force-displacement curves obtained on the ILM and on the glass substrate. These curves are converted to force-indentation data, which then allows calculation of the stiffness. Stiffness distribution of biological tissues has been shown to be a marker for diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, arthritis and cancer. Data courtesy: Marko Loparic, Marija Plodinec, Philip Oertle, and Paul B. Henrich, Biozentrum/SNI/UHBS, University of Basel, CH.

For measurements that don’t need optical access from below, e.g. for the imaging and spectroscopy of samples like bacteriorhodopsin, a standalone stage makes the Flex-Bio compatible with the Nanosurf Isostage and Acoustic Enclosure 300, and generally makes the system much more compact.

Flex-Bio system with stage
A Flex-Bio system with stand-alone stage, isostage, and acoustic enclosure. (B) 2D crystals of bacteriorhodopsin [140 nm scan range]. (C) Power spectrum of B, showing a lateral resolution of well over 1 nm [dashed circle]. (D) Single molecule force spectroscopy of bacteriorhodopsin.

For more applications, please see the application and publication sections on the right, or visit our Applications page.

A system design that opens up entirely new possibilities

The Flex-Bio has a modular stage, cantilever holder, and software concept that allows an easy upgrade of the system to access many new possibilities in life science and materials research. Flex-FPM for cell and nano-manipulation, for example, and Flex-ANA for automatic nanomechanical analysis. In addition, advanced modes like MFM and KPFM that were originally developed for the Flex-Axiom system, are also available for Flex-Bio.

Flex-FPM with FluidFM
Flex-ANA AFM for force mapping
Flex-Axiom for materials research

Practical details that really matter in daily use

Cantilever holders with alignment structures are available for use with cantilevers containing alignment grooves. This provides micrometer repositioning accuracy, circumventing laser alignment and allowing you to find the same sample features again and again. Cantilevers enter the image from top to bottom, so sample orientation is always the same, no matter whether you look by eye, CCD camera, or AFM (when scanned at the default scan angle).

AFM cantilever alignment chip sketch
Alignment chip technology
top view of cantilever
Top view on stand-alone stage
top view on inverted microscope
Top view on inverted microscope, image courtesy: O. Guilaume-Gentil, ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Flex-Bio components and accessories

At the heart of the Flex-Bio system are the FlexAFM scan head and the C3000 controller with I100 interface box. On top of that, several options and accessories are available, designed to deliver stable and reliable results, or to provide access to new measurement possibilities and experiments for this Bio AFM:

Cantilever holders for AFM in liquid
Cover slip holder with heating option
Petri dish holder to directly use cell culture dishes as AFM liquid cell
Environmental control chambers from several inverted microscope providers and Life Imaging Services (LIS) to support AFM cell imaging under conditions favorable to your cells
Large acoustic enclosures and active vibration isolation solutions for the Flex-Bio/inverted microscope setup (e.g. from Accurion)

Free pre-sales consultancy from one of our experienced application scientists

Contact us now to discuss your bio AFM application.

The Flex-Bio advantage

Precision and performance
Flexibility through modularity
Practical design that matters

Latest Flex-Bio applications

Latest Flex-Bio publications

Flex-Bio brochures

Flex-Bio software