Every nanopositioner has a small amount of uncertainty in its position that contributes noise to a measurement. It's important to understand what position noise is and where it comes from in order to know just how accurate the nanopositioner is.
Atomic force microscopes (AFMs) are versatile tools for characterizing surfaces down to the sub-nanometer scale, but are often seen as out of reach for many scientists with limited budgets. However, it is entirely possible for researchers to build their own AFMs for as little as $30,000 using off-the-shelf components such as nanopositioning stages.
Applying physics to the properties and underlying structures of the molecules of life offers an insight into the mechanisms that make living beings tick. The scientific community has developed a powerful toolbox of methods to probe these interactions over the past two decades, uncovering previously hidden information about the structure, dynamics, and function of individual biomolecules.
Total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy is used to watch biological processes unfold in real time. Taking advantage of the ability to label individual molecules with different colors of fluorescent tags, TIRF microscopy lets scientists view the complex molecular assemblies that govern cellular processes.
Progress in understanding the lipid bilayer — a two-molecule thick oily barrier that protects all living cells — has been dramatic over the past 100 years. But puzzles remain to be solved, such as how these membrane proteins navigate the oily lipid bilayer to go about their work.