Advanced AFM Laboratory

Platform Leader: Neus Domingo



  • Fast Label-Free Nanoscale Composition Mapping of Eukaryotic Cells Via Scanning Dielectric Force Volume Microscopy and Machine Learning

    Checa M., Millan-Solsona R., Mares A.G., Pujals S., Gomila G. Small Methods; 2021. 10.1002/smtd.202100279. IF: 12.130

    Mapping the biochemical composition of eukaryotic cells without the use of exogenous labels is a long-sought objective in cell biology. Recently, it has been shown that composition maps on dry single bacterial cells with nanoscale spatial resolution can be inferred from quantitative nanoscale dielectric constant maps obtained with the scanning dielectric microscope. Here, it is shown that this approach can also be applied to the much more challenging case of fixed and dry eukaryotic cells, which are highly heterogeneous and show micrometric topographic variations. More importantly, it is demonstrated that the main bottleneck of the technique (the long computation times required to extract the nanoscale dielectric constant maps) can be shortcut by using supervised neural networks, decreasing them from weeks to seconds in a wokstation computer. This easy-to-use data-driven approach opens the door for in situ and on-the-fly label free nanoscale composition mapping of eukaryotic cells with scanning dielectric microscopy. © 2021 The Authors. Small Methods published by Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • Mechanical Softness of Ferroelectric 180° Domain Walls MECHANICAL SOFTNESS of FERROELECTRIC 180 DEGREE ... STEFANI CHRISTINA et al.

    Stefani C., Ponet L., Shapovalov K., Chen P., Langenberg E., Schlom D.G., Artyukhin S., Stengel M., Domingo N., Catalan G. Physical Review X; 10 (4, 041001) 2020. 10.1103/PhysRevX.10.041001. IF: 12.577

    Using scanning probe microscopy, we measure the out-of-plane mechanical response of ferroelectric 180° domain walls and observe that, despite separating domains that are mechanically identical, the walls appear mechanically distinct-softer-compared to the domains. This effect is observed in different ferroelectric materials (LiNbO3, BaTiO3, and PbTiO3) and with different morphologies (from single crystals to thin films), suggesting that the effect is universal. We propose a theoretical framework that explains the domain wall softening and justifies that the effect should be common to all ferroelectrics. The lesson is, therefore, that domain walls are not only functionally different from the domains they separate, but also mechanically distinct. © 2020 authors. Published by the American Physical Society. Published by the American Physical Society under the terms of the ""Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the published article's title, journal citation, and DOI.


  • Signal enhancement on gold nanoparticle-based lateral flow tests using cellulose nanofibers

    Quesada-González D., Stefani C., González I., de la Escosura-Muñiz A., Domingo N., Mutjé P., Merkoçi A. Biosensors and Bioelectronics; 141 (111407) 2019. 10.1016/j.bios.2019.111407. IF: 9.518

    Lateral flow paper-based biosensors merge as powerful tools in point-of-care diagnostics since they are cheap, portable, robust, selective, fast and easy to use. However, the sensitivity of this type of biosensors is not always as high as required, often not permitting a clear quantification. To improve the colorimetric response of standard lateral flow strips (LFs), we have applied a new enhancement strategy that increases the sensitivity of LFs based on the use of cellulose nanofibers (CNF). CNF penetrate inside the pores of LFs nitrocellulose paper, compacting the pore size only in the test line, particularly near the surface of the strip. This modification retains the bioreceptors (antibodies) close to the surface of the strips, and thus further increasing the density of selectively attached gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) in the top part of the membrane, in the test line area, only when the sample is positive. This effect boosts in average a 36.6% the sensitivity of the LFs. The optical measurements of the LFs were carried out with a mobile phone camera whose imaging resolution was improved by attaching microscopic lens on the camera objective. The characterization of CNF into paper and their effect was analyzed using atomic force microscope (AFM) and scanning electron microscope (SEM) imaging techniques. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.