Advanced Life Science Research with the BioScope Catalyst Atomic Force Microscope from Bruker

Topic List

Dynamic Range
Sample Compatibility
Controller and Aligner
Design Breakthrough for Better Performance
Broad Dynamic Range for Research
Optical & AFM Technique Integration
Industry Leading Nanoscope V Controller
Superior Environmental Control
Top View Accessory
Phase Imaging
BioScope Catalyst Application Flexibility


The BioScope™ Catalyst atomic force microscope (AFM) has been engineered specifically to facilitate advanced life science research: from imaging, probing and manipulating biological systems such as a living cell down to single molecules.

This versatile instrument can be operated as a standalone or integrated instrument. The BioScope Catalyst allows the use of a broad range of biologically relevant conditions providing researchers with quality data and broad biosample compatibility.

The ergonomic design makes it easy to use with highend inverted light microscopes without compromising quality imaging. The integration allows correlation of AFM data with transmitted light microscopy including brightfield, darkfield and advanced optical techniques such as epifluorescence, CLSM, TIRF, FRAP and FRET.


Figure 1. The BioScope Catalyst Atomic Force Microscope


Geared towards life science applications

  • Open optical & physical access
  • Ergonomic design for user-friendly handling
  • Easy access and manipulation of tip/sample

Dynamic Range

Large, dynamic range in all 3-axis

  • Three levels of XY-stage control
  • >150 ìm XY-scan range
  • >15 ìm Z-range optimized for biological samples

Sample Compatibility

Broad sample compatibility

  • Customized for the most common sample types in biology
  • Soft seal vented perfusion chamber
  • Fluid, gaseous and temperature control

Controller and Aligner

Industry-leading Nanoscope V Controller

  • High resolution imaging capabilities (5120 x 5120 pixel density)
  • Eight independent data channels for simultaneous monitoring and acquisition of multiple sample properties
  • High speed data capture up to 50 MHz (HSDC)
  • Thermal tune up (up to 2 MHz)

EasyAlign Accessory

  • Simplifies laser alignment
  • Streamlines cantilever replacement
  • Permits unique visualization of IR super-luminescent diode (SLD)

Figure 2. Easy Align accessory

Design Breakthrough for Better Performance

The BioScope Catalyst AFM is ideal for a wide array of cuttingedge bioscience applications, such as spatial identifi cation of protein molecules and cellular structures, investigations of cell response to mechanical stimulation and in-situ pharmacological studies of live cells.

The open, ergonomic design of the BioScope Catalyst scanner head allows use of brightfield, darkfi eld, phase contrast and DIC optical microscopy with condensers up to 0.55NA. The AFM sample stage accommodates high-magnification objective lenses, including water and oil immersion objectives, such that optical functionality is not compromised. Furthermore, the open physical access to the area surrounding the AFM tip and sample allows easy addition/exchange of imaging fluids, as well as the potential for introduction of mechanical probes, without interfering with the optical pathway.

Experimental setup is simplified by a set of enhanced “ease of use” features, including a motorized stage and automated approach mechanism for accurate tip-sample alignment. Bruker’s unique EasyAlign accessory streamlines cantilever replacement and laser alignment.

Broad Dynamic Range for Research

The BioScope Catalyst XY-scanning sample stage provides a dynamic range of scan sizes. Meanwhile, an X-Y range that exceeds 150ìm lets users better match cell/sample size to scan area and easily correlate AFM data with optical/fluorescence images. To permit imaging of taller biological structures, such as cells, the BioScope Catalyst offers a Z range greater than 15ìm.

With low-noise, closed-loop scanning capabilities in all threeaxes, the BioScope Catalyst allows accurate offsetting to features of interest.

Optical & AFM Technique Integration

While the BioScope Catalyst can be operated as a stand-alone AFM system, it can also be integrated with a number of more advanced optical techniques, such as epifluorescence, CLSM, TIRF, FRAP, and FRET. These types of “multimodal” imaging platforms provide a powerful approach for yielding in-situ correlated information on the structure-function relationship of biomolecules and biological processes. A standard IR super-luminescent diode is utilized for deflection detection, effectively eliminating interference with common red-emitting biological fluorophores.

Industry Leading Nanoscope V Controller

The NanoScope V controller delivers reliable, high-speed data capture (up to 50 MHz), allowing researchers to recordand analyze tip-sample interactions that probe nanoscale events at timescales previously inaccessible to SPM.

High-pixel-density images (5120 x 5120) preserves sample integrity by eliminating the need for repeated scans at progressively smaller scan sizes. The NanoScope V enables up to eight images to be simultaneously displayed/captured with unprecedented signal-to-noise ratio. The controller incorporates three independent lock-in amplifiers, provides thermal tune measurements of cantilever resonances up to 2MHz, affords easy access to most input and output signals,and supports input data from an external source.

Superior Environmental Control

Fast, simple instrument setup improves time-to-results and greatly reduces sample degradation. For studies requiring a more physiologically related environment, the BioScope Catalyst offers a “soft-sealed” vented perfusion chamber. Combined with a magnetically held condensation window, the chamber affords control of the liquid/chemical environment, as well as the gaseous environment above the sample, thereby enabling long-term imaging of oxygen- or pH-sensitive samples such as anaerobic cell types. This “soft-sealed” vented environment reduces evaporation in order to facilitate imaging of self assembly processes and molecular interactions in real-time.

A physiological heating stage, with thermistor feedback, is also available for the BioScope Catalyst. This stage easily replaces the standard sample stage and can be used alone or in combination with the perfusion cell to maintain live cell samples. It also enables the study of certain thermally activated processes such as crystal formation/dissolution and lipid membrane phase transitions.

Top View Accessory

A broad range of dynamic and relevant conditions can be applied to accommodate most commonly used sample types in biology and biomaterials. Top View Accessory is expanding range into non-transparent and thick, transparent samples (e.g. tissues). Thus, it is taking full advantage of the unsurpassed open physical access of the BioScope Catalyst. Compatibility with the integrated systems or as a stand-alone, Top View Accessory supports materials and biosciences nanoimaging and functional studies.


Figure 3. Top View Accessory AFM integrated with IOM or alternatively as a stand-alone solution (inset)


TappingMode AFM maps topography by lightly tapping the surface with an oscillating probe tip:

  • Reduction of lateral and vertical shear forces
  • Allows non-destructive imaging of soft, fragile samples
  • Alleviates the need for strong attachment to substrate
  • Operational in air and fl uid environment

Phase Imaging

Phase Imaging AFM is a patented technique which is acquired simultaneously with TappingMode topographical information. Relative phase changes often indicate differences in sample surface properties. This feature allows interpretation of data refering to

  • Composition
  • Adhesion
  • Viscoelasticity

BioScope Catalyst Application Flexibility

Live Cell Imaging

  • Identification and mapping of biomolecules and cell structures
  • Cell structure and function correlation
  • Real-time observation of cell signaling events
  • In-situ pharmacological studies on live cells
  • Observation of multiple cell-cell interactions / cell adhesion

High Resolution Molecular Imaging

  • DNA-Plasmid
  • Biopolymer structure
  • Lipid-bilayer, membrane imaging
  • Combined Optical / AFM Experiments
  • Optically guided AFM imaging
  • Identification of known vs. new structures
  • Identification of regions of interest
  • Correlation of internal vs. external cell / sub-cellular structures

Functional studies

  • Cell membrane elasticity
  • Force spectroscopy, volume
  • Nanomanipulation
  • Molecular (un)folding
  • Ligand / receptor (un)binding

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Bruker Nano Surfaces.

For more information on this source please visit Bruker Nano Surfaces.

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