Development and testing of hyperbaric atomic force microscopy (AFM) and fluorescence microscopy for biological applications

D. P. D'Agostino, University of South Florida
Helen McNally, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
J.B. Dean, University of South Florida

Date of this Version



Microscopy: Volume 246, Issue 2 May 2012 Pages 129–142


A commercially available atomic force microscopy and fluorescence microscope were installed and tested inside a custom-designed hyperbaric chamber to provide the capability to study the effects of hyperbaric gases on biological preparations, including cellular mechanism of oxidative stress. In this report, we list details of installing and testing atomic force microscopy and fluorescence microscopy inside a hyperbaric chamber. The pressure vessel was designed to accommodate a variety of imaging equipment and ensures full functionality at ambient and hyperbaric conditions (=85 psi). Electrical, gas and fluid lines were installed to enable remote operation of instrumentation under hyperbaric conditions, and to maintain viable biological samples with gas-equilibrated superfusate and/or drugs. Systems were installed for vibration isolation and temperature regulation to maintain atomic force microscopy performance during compression and decompression. Results of atomic force microscopy testing demonstrate sub-nanometre resolution at hyperbaric pressure in dry scans and fluid scans, in both contact mode and tapping mode. Noise levels were less when measurements were taken under hyperbaric pressure with air, helium (He) and nitrogen (N2). Atomic force microscopy and fluorescence microscopy measurements were made on a variety of living cell cultures exposed to hyperbaric gases (He, N2, O2, air). In summary, atomic force microscopy and fluorescence microscopy were installed and tested for use at hyperbaric pressures and enables the study of cellular and molecular effects of hyperbaric gases and pressure per se in biological preparations.


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology