Polymer-Probe-Based Scanning Probe Microscope for Noninvasive, High-Speed, Broadband Investigation of Live Mammalian Cell

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Prof. Jaeseok Jeon is part of a team that has been awarded an NSF grant of $636,557 for 3 years for the project   Development of a Polymer-Probe-Based Scanning Probe Microscope for Noninvasive, High-Speed, Broadband Investigation of Live Mammalian Cell.   This is a collaborative project with Profs. Qingze Zou (PI) of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Nan Gao of Biological Sciences.

The goal of this IDBR project is to improve both the function and performance of scanning probe microscope (SPM) by one to two orders of magnitude for interrogating cellular and subcellular evolutions of mammalian cells. This goal will be achieved through the development of polymer-based cantilever probes coupling with a new imaging protocol of minimal-deformation and a new control-based nanomechanical measurement protocol for in-liquid SPM operation on live cells. Focused on SPM interrogation of mammalian cells of large volume and soft and corrugated membrane, the proposed research has four objectives: (1) Design, fabricate, and implement polymer-based cantilever probes with contact stiffness over four orders and allowable force (i.e., within the fracture limit of live cell membrane) over two orders of magnitude smaller than those of current silicon-based cantilever probes, and probe radius (~10 nm) two orders of magnitude smaller than that of bead-attached probes; (2) Design and implement a new imaging protocol that minimizes the scanning-caused cell membrane deformation while adaptively adjusting both the scanning speed and the force load to maximize the overall imaging efficacy, and a new nanomechanical measurement protocol for live cell and subcellular specimen in liquid that improves the accuracy in indentation measurement over an order of magnitude and increases the measurement frequency range over two orders of magnitude; (3) Demonstrate, validate, and evaluate the proposed SPM innovation through real-time quantification of viscoelasticity oscillation of cytoskeleton, and quantification/correlation of morphological and mechanical evolutions during cell division.