Advancing Nanobiomechanical Research: Large Tissue Area Mapping and Nano Scale Rheology via AFM

M. Ye, A. Koernig
Bruker Nano Surface,
United States

Keywords: atomic force microscopy, tissue, force spectroscopy, nanobiomechanical mapping


The expansion of atomic force microscopy (AFM) applications to encompass nanomechanical measurements across millimeter to centimeter scales, coupled with the exploration of rheological properties in the frequency domain, introduces a complex array of challenges. The inherent precision and sensitivity of AFM, tailored for atomic and nanoscale interactions, are tested as we extend its scope. In a collaborative study with Prof. Dr. Thorsten Hugel (AFM) and Prof. Dr. Bernd Rolauffs (SCSO), we explore the nanomechanical landscape of osteoarthritis (OA) on a large tissue scale. Through a novel hybrid fluorescence-AFM approach, we successfully correlated superficial chondrocyte spatial organization (SCSO) with microscale elastic modulus and identified nanoscale mechanical property variations in articular cartilage (AC). This technique enabled the precise mapping of elastic modulus variations over extensive areas of native AC, unveiling pivotal insights into the early stages of OA. By elucidating the relationship between cellular organization and mechanical alterations in tissue, our findings offer a new lens through which to view the hierarchical structure of biological tissues such as cartilage. This research underscores the critical role of Smart Mapping and nano scale rheology within the AFM framework, providing a fresh perspective on the biomechanical study of hierarchical biological tissues. These technological advancements are instrumental in enhancing early OA diagnosis and hold the potential to inform the development of hierarchical biomaterials. Ultimately, our work lays the foundation for innovative treatment strategies for OA and similar pathologies, marking a significant leap forward in nanobiomechanical research.