A micromachined membrane-based active probe for biomolecular mechanics measurement
Author: Hamdi Torun
A novel micromachined, membrane-based probe has been developed and fabricated as assays to enable parallel measurements. Each probe in the array can be individually actuated, and the membrane displacement can be measured with high resolution using an integrated diffraction-based optical interferometer. To illustrate its application in single-molecule mechanics experiments, this membrane probe was used to measure unbinding forces between L-selectin reconstituted in a polymer-cushioned lipid bilayer on the probe membrane and an antibody adsorbed on an atomic force microscope cantilever. Piconewton range forces between single pairs of interacting molecules were measured from the cantilever bending while using the membrane probe as an actuator. The integrated diffraction-based optical interferometer of the probe was demonstrated to have <10 fm Hz−1/2 noise floor for frequencies as low as 3 Hz with a differential readout scheme. With soft probe membranes, this low noise level would be suitable for direct force measurements without the need for a cantilever. Furthermore, the probe membranes were shown to have 0.5 µm actuation range with a flat response up to 100 kHz, enabling measurements at fast speeds.