This integrated atomic-photonic force microscopy system, developed at IIT by a close collaboration between the Neuroscience and Nano-Physics departments, can perform simultaneous force spectroscopy measurements, from the sub-pico-Newton to the micro-Newton range in different arbitrary positions of the sample, not restricted to the field of view of the objective. The system can work in liquid and in vivo. The resulting extended range of force measurements is a unique feature of this device, where the complementary capabilities of the two techniques are combined to characterize the global and local properties of the specimens. The precise matching of the atomic-force and photonic-force technologies, also allows performing a stimulus-response investigation in an extended load and frequency range at different location in the sample simultaneously.
A major application of this integrated microscope is detecting cells organization in a tissue and the propagation of mechanical stress from cell to cell. For example, the AFM cantilever can be used to apply dynamic mechanical stress to the tissue (in the nano-Newton range), while the high sensitivity of the optically trapped probe (in the sub-pico-Newton range) allows to measure correlated non-local response of the cells.