BME 695N Lecture 9: Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) for Nanomedical Systems (cells and nanoparticles)

By Helen McNally

Purdue University

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This lecture describes the use of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) for nanomedical system development and delivery. The basics of AFM and other scanning probe microscopy techniques are reviewed. Applications of AFM for characterization of nano sized particles and molecules are introduced as well as AFM imaging and manipulation of live cells. The Bindley Bioscience Center Biological AFM facility is described as a tool for ongoing Purdue University researchers.


Dr. McNally is an assistant Professor or Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology at Purdue University. She is a member of the Birck Nanotechnology Center and the Bindley Bioscience Center (BBC) at Purdue’s Discovery Park. Dr. McNally currently directs the BBC Biological Atomic Force Microscopy (BioAFM) Facility.

Prior to this Dr. McNally has been at Purdue as a Senior Research Scientist pursuing multidisciplinary research areas involving the Schools of Engineering, Science, and Veterinary Medicine with applications ranging from molecular electronics to spinal cord injury. Most recently she developed the BioAFM facility for campus wide access to scanning probe microscopy for biological and medical applications.

Dr. McNally’s research interests involve the development and integration of scanning probe technologies for fluid applications. She is currently developing BioAFM short courses and courses in nano and bio technology at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Her interest also includes outreach and curriculum development for K-12.


  • Atomic force microscopy for biologists, V.J. Morris, A.R. Kirby, and A.P. Gunning, London : Imperial College Press: Distributed by World Scienfitic Pub., c1999.
  • Stoichiometry-Dependent Formation of Quantum Dot-Antibody Bioconjugates: A Complementary Atomic Force Microscopy and Agarose Gel Electrophoresis Study, Barrett J. Nehilla, Tania Q. Vu, and Tejal A. Desai, J. Phys. Chem. B V109, pp.20724-20730, 2005.
  • Cisplatin Nanoliposomes for Cancer Therapy: AFM and Fluorescence Imaging of Cisplatin Encapsulation, Stability, Cellular Uptake, and Toxicity, S. Ramachandran, A. P. Quist, S. Kumar, and R. Lal, Langmuir. V22, pp.8156-8162, 2006.

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Helen McNally (2007), "BME 695N Lecture 9: Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) for Nanomedical Systems (cells and nanoparticles),"

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