Research in the mechanical properties of cells will help to develop novel techniques and methods to complement traditional methods of cancer detection and means to evaluate the efficiency of cancer drugs. The objective of this project is to achieve significant advances in such field using specific cantilevers with customized geometries, added functionalities and engineered tips. More concretely, the tip shapes will be chosen in order to increase the contact area and therefore increasing the signal to noise ratio at the moment of the indentation; the geometries of the levers (top-view design) will be improved in order to minimize the damping; and finally a self actuation mechanism will be integrated in the levers in order to minimize the fluid vibrations and therefore the noise. Finally the fabrication and use of arrays of optimized probes is planned aiming the increase of the data acquisition rate, which will enable statistical studies to consolidate the technique and the possibility of the commercialization of the prototypes All the improvements planned for the project are expected to help the development of instruments and methods to ultimately characterize cancer cells in vivo, which is the major goal within cancer detection research. The presented proposal describes an ambitious project in a crucial topic. It will start with a very basic research on cell-studies and characterization with single AFM probes and it will finish with the use of multiple probes in parallel to validate the technique. The synergies between the outgoing and return organizations and the matching of the applicant profile with the research program are optimum for a successful development of the project.
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