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Alsteens, David; Gaub, Hermann E.; Newton, Richard; Pfreundschuh, Moritz; Gerber, Christoph; Müller, Daniel J. (2017): Atomic force microscopy-based characterization and design of biointerfaces. In: Nature Reviews Materials, Vol. 2, No. 5, 17008
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Atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based methods have matured into a powerful nanoscopic platform, enabling the characterization of a wide range of biological and synthetic biointerfaces ranging from tissues, cells, membranes, proteins, nucleic acids and functional materials. Although the unprecedented signal-to-noise ratio of AFM enables the imaging of biological interfaces from the cellular to the molecular scale, AFM-based force spectroscopy allows their mechanical, chemical, conductive or electrostatic, and biological properties to be probed. The combination of AFM-based imaging and spectroscopy structurally maps these properties and allows their 3D manipulation with molecular precision. In this Review, we survey basic and advanced AFM-related approaches and evaluate their unique advantages and limitations in imaging, sensing, parameterizing and designing biointerfaces. It is anticipated that in the next decade these AFM-related techniques will have a profound influence on the way researchers view, characterize and construct biointerfaces, thereby helping to solve and address fundamental challenges that cannot be addressed with other techniques.