Applications of AFM in pharmaceutical sciences

Dimitrios Lamprou, James R. Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a high-resolution imaging technique that uses a small probe (tip and cantilever) to provide topographical information on surfaces in air or in liquid media. By pushing the tip into the surface or by pulling it away, nanomechanical data such as compliance (stiffness, Young’s Modulus) or adhesion, respectively, may be obtained and can also be presented visually in the form of maps displayed alongside topography images. This chapter outlines the principles of operation of AFM, describing some of the important imaging modes and then focuses on the use of the technique for pharmaceutical research. Areas include tablet coating and dissolution, crystal growth and polymorphism, particles and fibres, nanomedicine, nanotoxicology, drug-protein and protein-protein interactions, live cells, bacterial biofilms and viruses. Specific examples include mapping of ligand-receptor binding on cell surfaces, studies of protein-protein interactions to provide kinetic information and the potential of AFM to be used as an early diagnostic tool for cancer and other diseases. Many of these reported investigations are from 2011-2014, both from the literature and a few selected studies from the authors’ laboratories.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnalytical Techniques in the Pharmaceutical Sciences
EditorsAnette Müllertz, Yvonne Perrie , Thomas Rades
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)978-1-4939-4029-5
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2016

Publication series

NameAdvances in Delivery Science and Technology


  • pharmaceutical science
  • atomic force microscopy
  • high resolution imaging

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