Touching the molecules of life

The atomic force microscope is a relatively new investigation tool in biology and medecine. This instrument permits to observe living state with a nanometric resolution in almost native conditions. In addition to its exceptional imaging capabilities, the instrument permits to probe the sample mechanical properties and can detect the presence of specific chemical species present on its surface. Our group is using this instrument to measure specific interaction forces between single proteins and to probe the mechanical properties of the membranes of living cells.