A Unique Atomic Force Microscope is Located at Sevastopol State University

The object is only 100 by 100 micrometers in size, but it can be seen in detail. The focus of the scientist Nikolai Torkhov, is the human epithelial cell and a new atomic force microscope has made it possible to see it alive.

“In an electron microscope, this is impossible, because there is still reduced pressure, the cell evaporates. Unlike electron microscopes, here it is possible to photograph a living object in an environment close to its natural one, for example, cells can be photographed in a liquid”, explained Nikolai Torkhov, a leading researcher at Sevastopol State University.

The new equipment has opened up opportunities for new research. One of the directions is targeted drug delivery: nanoparticles transport the active substance to a given area of the body, organ or cell. Inanimate, technical objects can also be studied with the help of the new microscope. At the nano-level, all technological operations are carried out in the manufacture of microelectronic devices; this is also planned to be done at the university. The principle of operation of an atomic force microscope is fundamentally different from the optical one, familiar to everyone from school.

One of the main parts is the probe. It has a built-in needle, the radius of curvature of the tip of which is six nanometers. At good magnification, we can see the contilever beam on which it is located. The probe is placed over the test sample.

The platform on which the sample was placed moves, and the needle, touching it, scans the surface relief. Another feature of the device is the presence of five lasers with different radiation spectra: blue, red, infrared, ultraviolet and green. Each in turn is irradiated with the object of study.

“Having received a return signal from the object, we receive a spectrum, decipher it, and use this spectrum to further analyze the composition of the sample. In a simple microscope, we get, in fact, only a picture. That is, we see an object, see some details, if it is a microscope with a good resolution, then here, in addition to seeing the details of the object, we can say what they are made of, about the material”, said Andrei Mosunov, a leading researcher at Sevastopol State University.

There are no analogues to such equipment, microscopes of just such a configuration, not only in Crimea, but throughout Russia. Scientists from other institutes in Sevastopol and representatives of other regions have already become interested in the new device. For example, Tomsk specialists want to conduct their research here.