2014 Volume 69 Issue 7 Pages 459-464
Biological molecules (proteins and nucleic acids) perform sophisticated functions by changing their structures and interactions with partners. Therefore, directly observing biomolecules in action at high spatiotemporal resolution must be the most straightforward approach to understanding how they function. However, such an observation has long been infeasible because of a lack of techniques that meet all the required conditions (i.e. nanometer resolution, high temporal resolution, in-liquid observation, direct visualization without markers, and low-invasiveness). To make it possible, we have developed high-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM), which has now reached its maturity. In this article, we first overview the essential techniques to realize the HS-AFM and then show an example of its application study demonstrating the power of HS-AFM. The HS-AFM technique is applicable to not only biological phenomena but also various physical and chemical phenomena occurring dynamically in liquids at the nanometer scale.