Cardiovascular Research Center

Atomic Force Microscopy Core Facility

The Atomic Force Microscopy Core Facility is supported by an NIH S10 shared instrument award, with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. With state-of-the-art atomic force and real-time confocal imaging capabilities, the facility is customized for numerous biological applications ranging from single molecules, to living cells, to intact tissues.

The core functionality of the system allows users to conduct biomechanical studies complemented by fast, high-resolution confocal fluorescence imaging. As a standalone instrument, the atomic force microscope also provides force spectroscopy and imaging that break the optical resolution barrier, providing numerous user options. users.

Currently, eight Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai research groups are major users of the facility, including those in cardiology, radiology, systems biology, structural biology, and orthopedics. Researchers use the system for high-resolution imaging, biomechanical testing, and single cell force probing, among numerous other applications.

Learn more about current AFM Core Research projects


The AFM system is an Asylum MFP-3D-BIO atomic force microscope integrated with an Olympus IX-81 DSU Real-Time confocal microscope, designed to be both reliable in servicing a multi-user core facility. Our control and post-processing software is open-access, based on the Igor Pro programming environment.

The software is fully coupled with the optical setup through a digital access module, which provides "point-shoot" and "overlay" features necessary to cross-correlate AFM characterization with optical fluorescence. These can be conducted through user-defined scripts for custom imaging routines. The close-loop AFM scanner is controlled with independent piezoelectric stacks, so that positioning of the three axes is highly accurate.

A number of features, such as an extended 40-micron z-axis range, fluid cell/petri dish heater/environmental control, and vibration isolation with acoustic enclosure, provide us with a wide range of possibilities for experiments. By adapting this system to the Olympus IX-81 DSU, we have combined high-end confocal fluorescence imaging at 30 frames per second with low levels of light exposure to the biological samples due to the spinning disk system. Our facility has been tailor-made to meet the requirements of our biomedical researchers while maintaining industry-leading capabilities of atomic force microscopy.


If you are interested in projects with the Atomic Force Microscopy Core Facility, please contact our Director, Kevin D. Costa, PhD