Improved visualization of DNA in aqueous buffer with the atomic force microscope

M. Bezanilla, C. J. Bustamante, H. G. Hansma, R. Balhorn, Z. Shao, E. Henderson, B. Samori, S. M. Lindsay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


An improved method has been developed for imaging deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in aqueous buffer with the atomic force microscope (AFM). DNA on untreated mica can be imaged in aqueous buffer with the AFM if the DNA is deposited onto the mica in a buffer with HEPES and MgCl2, if the sample is rinsed thoroughly with high water pressure, and if the imaging is done with an electron beam-deposited (EBD) tip that has been deposited in the scanning electron microscope (SEM). The water rinse removes DNA that is otherwise easily scraped off the substrate. There is evidence that sharper tips may be more damaging to DNA when imaged in aqueous buffer especially when the DNA is bound tightly to the mica. The ability to image DNA in nearly biological conditions has potential applications for imaging biomolecular processes with the AFM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1145-1148
Number of pages4
JournalScanning Microscopy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Atomic force microscopy (AFM)
  • aqueous buffer
  • cantilever
  • deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)
  • electron beam-deposited (EBD) tip
  • imaging biological processes
  • imaging buffer
  • mica
  • scanning electron microscope (SEM)
  • water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation


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