Atomic force microscopy as nanorobot

Ning Xi, Carmen Kar Man Fung, Ruiguo Yang, King Wai Chiu Lai, Donna H. Wang, Kristina Seiffert-Sinha, Animesh A. Sinha, Guangyong Li, Lianqing Liu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a powerful and widely used imaging technique that can visualize single molecules under physiological condition at the nanometer scale. In this chapter, an AFM-based nanorobot for biological studies is introduced. Using the AFM tip as an end effector, the AFM can be modified into a nanorobot that can manipulate biological objects at the single-molecule level. By functionalizing the AFM tip with specific antibodies, the nanorobot is able to identify specific types of receptors on the cell membrane. It is similar to the fluorescent optical microscopy but with higher resolution. By locally updating the AFM image based on interaction force information and objects’ model during nanomanipulation, real-time visual feedback is obtained through the augmented reality interface. The development of the AFM-based nanorobotic system enables us to conduct in situ imaging, sensing, and manipulation simultaneously at the nanometer scale (e.g., protein and DNA levels). The AFM-based nanorobotic system offers several advantages and capabilities for studying structure–function relationships of biological specimens. As a result, many biomedical applications can be achieved by the AFM-based nanorobotic system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages19
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • AFM
  • Augmented reality
  • Nanomaniplation
  • Nanorobot
  • Single-molecule recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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