Prof. Leang and collaborators at the Boston University receive $697,835 NSF grant: COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH: HIGH-SPEED AFM IMAGING OF DYNAMICS ON BIOPOLYMERS THROUGH NON-RASTER SCANNING.
The primary aim of this project is to create a novel high-speed atomic force microscope (AFM) imaging system with frame rates of on the order of 100 frames/second. While the creation of this instrument may have a significant impact on a broad range of application areas, the primary target is the study of biomolecular processes. The extremely fast frame rate and long range will allow for the direct visualization of dynamic process that previously could be studied at best only through indirect means. The interdisciplinary nature of the project provides excellent opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate student training as well as outreach to middle- and high-school age students through summer programs on nano- and biotechnology.
The speed gains of the instrument will be achieved in two ways. The first way is to replace the standard raster-scan of AFM with a feedback algorithm that steers the tip to stay in the region of interest. This will reduce imaging time by reducing the amount of scanning to be done, with the tradeoff that the sample to be imaged must have an underlying string-like structure such as is found in biopolymers. The second way is to create dual-stage scanning systems that will allow the non-raster scanning to be performed at ultra-fast speeds. A prototype system will be built and demonstrated on a variety of standard samples before being deployed to study the dynamics of the molecular motor myosin V. The instrument and underlying techniques will be disseminated through journal publication and conference publication and through collaboration with an existing AFM company to integrate the techniques in their next generation devices.