I propose to pursue two emerging Force Microscopy techniques that allow measuring structural properties below the surface of the specimen. Whereas Force Microscopy (most commonly known under the name AFM) is usually limited to measuring the surface topography and surface properties of a specimen, I will demonstrate that Force Microscopy can achieve true 3D images of the structure of the cell nucleus. In Ultrasound Force Microscopy, an ultrasound wave is launched from below towards the surface of the specimen. After the sound waves interact with structures beneath the surface of the specimen, the local variations in the amplitude and phase shift of the ultrasonic surface motion is collected by the Force Microscopy tip. Previously, measured 2D maps of the surface response have shown that the surface response is sensitive to structures below the surface. In this project I will employ miniature AFM cantilevers and nanotube tips that I have already developed in my lab. This will allow me to quickly acquire many such 2D maps at a much wider range of ultrasound frequencies and from these 2D maps calculate the full 3D structure below the surface. I expect this technique to have a resolving power better than 10 nm in three dimensions as far as 2 microns below the surface. In parallel I will introduce a major improvement to a technique based on Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). Magnetic Resonance Force Microscopy measures the interaction of a rotating nuclear spin in the field gradient of a magnetic Force Microscopy tip. However, these forces are so small that they pose an enormous challenge. Miniature cantilevers and nanotube tips, in combination with additional innovations in the detection of the cantilever motion, can overcome this problem. I expect to be able to measure the combined signal of 100 proton spins or fewer, which will allow me to measure proton densities with a resolution of 5 nm, but possibly even with atomic resolution.
Field of science
- /natural sciences/physical sciences/optics/microscopy
- /natural sciences/physical sciences/acoustics/ultrasound
Call for proposal
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