WG5 New Instrument & Techniques

AFM instrumentation and devices for the new generation of AFM equipment aimed at clinical applications.

Several physical imaging techniques, notably, X-ray, nuclear magnetic resonance or ultrasound imaging have evolved as powerful and widely used tools for clinical research and medical diagnosis. With perhaps the exception of X-ray imaging, the development of the medical applications of these techniques was a lengthy process. The ability of the AFM for high resolution imaging of soft materials in physiological conditions makes this instrument a potential candidate for clinical diagnosis. The Working Group 5 intends to shorten the transition period between the development of a highly successful instrument for research in nanotechnology to an instrument with clinical research applications.

The activity of this Working Group is articulated in two different tasks. One is focused on defining the dominant features that should characterized an AFM devoted to clinical applications. The other is devoted to establish the areas of clinical research where the AFM could play a major role. The first task is divided in two sub-tasks. One of these will establish and explore the requirements for achieving a user-friendly instrumental interface. The other sub-task will consider the performance aspects of the instrument in terms of spatial resolution, spectroscopy analysis or fast imaging that are required in clinical research. Some of the technical inputs for this activity will come from the other Working Groups of this Action.

The second task is devoted to establish the most likely areas of clinical research where the AFM is expected have a major impact. From the current research, it can be anticipated that cancer and heart disease diagnosis or immunology would be some of the medical areas where the AFM could readily develop all its potential.