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Open Access Nano Express

bOptimizing atomic force microscopy for characterization of diamond-protein interfaces

Bohuslav Rezek, Egor Ukraintsev* and Alexander Kromka

  • * Corresponding author: Egor Ukraintsev ukraints@fzu.cz

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

Institute of Physics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Cukrovarnická 10, 16253 Prague 6, Czech Republic

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:337  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-337

Published: 14 April 2011

Abstract

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) in contact mode and tapping mode is employed for high resolution studies of soft organic molecules (fetal bovine serum proteins) on hard inorganic diamond substrates in solution and air. Various effects in morphology and phase measurements related to the cantilever spring constant, amplitude of tip oscillations, surface approach, tip shape and condition are demonstrated and discussed based on the proposed schematic models. We show that both diamond and proteins can be mechanically modified by Si AFM cantilever. We propose how to choose suitable cantilever type, optimize scanning parameters, recognize and minimize various artifacts, and obtain reliable AFM data both in solution and in air to reveal microscopic characteristics of protein-diamond interfaces. We also suggest that monocrystalline diamond is well defined substrate that can be applicable for fundamental studies of molecules on surfaces in general.