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Journal Article

Immobilizing Biomolecules for Scanning Force Microscopy by Embedding in Carbon


Butt,  Hans-Jürgen
Department of Biophysical Chemistry, Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, Max Planck Society;

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Butt, H.-J., Müller, T., & Gross, H. (1993). Immobilizing Biomolecules for Scanning Force Microscopy by Embedding in Carbon. Journal of Structural Biology, 110(2), 127-132. doi:10.1006/jsbi.1993.1013.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-AEF5-1
To investigate biomolecules with a scanning force microscope, the biomolecules must be immobilized on a flat, smooth substrate. Therefore the biomolecules were deposited on freshly cleaved mica and overcoated with a thick layer of carbon. The carbon layer, including the embedded biomolecules, was peeled off the mica and its underside was imaged with a scanning force microscope. The method was tested with DNA. It could be shown that (1) DNA stayed in the carbon during the peel-off process; (2) DNA was easy to identify in the flat substrate; (3) the bare DNA could be imaged at high forces without destroying it; and (4) scanning the biomolecules in liquids was possible. An advantage of the technique is that it allows freeze-drying, thus avoiding structural changes caused by air-drying. The replica/anchoring technique was also used to prepare flat, conducting substrates, which might be suitable for scanning tunneling microscopy.