A review of atomic force microscopy applied to cell interactions with membranes

Nidal Hilal, W. Richard Bowen, L. Alkhatib, O. Ogunbiyi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Atomic force microscopy is a new technology and the wide range of its applications is rapidly growing in research and development. It is a versatile and useful technique to study engineering processes at the nanoscale level. This powerful technique has been used to visualize surfaces both in air and process relevant aqueous environments. The atomic force microscope (AFM) in conjunction with colloid probe, coated colloid probe and cell probe techniques offers excellent advantages over other competing techniques in the study of chemical and process engineering problems, especially directly quantifying the forces of interaction between (coated) colloids/cells and planar surfaces of process materials and equipment. This paper focuses on the use of such probes in the direct measurement of (bio)colloidal interactions in a direction normal to the surface at which the interaction may take place. The approach has played a big role in the development of (bio)fouling resistant membranes by correctly identifying membranes with low fouling properties. It introduced the concept to (bio) process engineering of using AFM in the development of novel surfaces prior to costly pilot plant procedures. AFM is fast becoming an essential tool for research and development and is proven to be a powerful asset in the understanding of existing processes and the development of new processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-292
Number of pages11
JournalChemical Engineering Research and Design
Issue number4 A
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Adhesion forces
  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Colloid probes
  • Engineering
  • Membranes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering


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