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Introducing Hydra BioAFMTM with VISTATM

Cell AFM

Nanonics, the leading provider of cutting-edge AFM technology, is proud to present its newest breakthrough in bio atomic force microscopy: the Hydra BioAFMTM featuring VISTATM (Vivid Imaging Soft Touch AFM) mode. This innovation offers ultrasensitive single pN force mapping combined with the benefits of super-resolution optical/fluorescent imaging. Live cell imaging with <100nm optical resolution and direct correlation with AFM topography is now possible. The finest structures, such as microvilli, can now be analyzed with on-line mechanics. The Hydra BioAFM, with its single or multi-probe capability, allows versatile optical integration with dual microscopes & side illumination. The system enables super-resolution methods like STED, PALM, STORM, and live cell NSOM with any available dye.

Live Cell Imaging


live cell imaging
Topography of live MDCK cells imaged with VISTA showing microvilli

The Hydra BioAFM features VISTATM (Vivid Imaging Soft Touch AFM) – enabling live cell imaging with the highest resolutionCombine highest resolution force mapping with controlled and known point of contact. VISTA offers:

  • Live cell imaging with probes exhibiting Q factors in the thousands even in liquid
  • Single pN force measurement – the highest force resolution of any commercial AFM
  • Force spectroscopy – no Jump to Contact, allowing for investigating surface forces to the last nm from the membrane surface
  • Ultralong extended probe tips with large aspect ratio and ideal angle for minimal cell perturbation
  • 90μm Z range – the largest of any commercial AFM for imaging biological samples



True Optical Integration


Extended transparent glass probe with high Q Factor



The Hydra BioAFM is designed for all forms of optical microscopy. The Hydra is the only BioAFM to integrate with either upright or inverted microscopes and dual (4pi) microscopes. Furthermore, side illumination for light sheet microscopy is available. The Hydra BioAFM has rendered obsolete solutions such as shuttling a sample from your AFM back and forth to an upright microscope. All of this is achieved with no compromise in force sensitivity and resolution.









AFM with online water immersion objective for the highest optical resolution and purity

The Largest Versatility in Optical Configuration

  • Upright
  • Inverted
  • Light sheet side illumination
  • Combined 4 pi illumination (dual upright and inverted microscope)
  • Brightfield & darkfield Phase contrast
  • Epifluorescence
  • TIRF
  • Confocal fluorescence
  • Raman and all forms of spectral Imaging
  • Non linear two, three photon
  • SHG and STED imaging


See the Whole Picture

  • Highly scattering tissue
  • Bacterial cultures in Agar
  • Opaque samples, such as microfluidic networks



Optical Overlay

Biological research requires a comprehensive view of the sample; by combining multiple perspectives a deeper understanding emerges.

Protein AFM

The Hydra BioAFM features a correlated view

  • AFM overlaid with real-time CCD optical imaging
  • Complete optical access combined with glass AFM probes provides for an unobstructed view
  • Quick and easy probe-sample placement
  • Quick selection of the area of interest for AFM imaging within the CCD image
  • Generate beautiful 3D collages, correlating optical view with topographical and force information



AFM cell


Super-Resolution Optical Imaging

Over the last decade, a new powerful set of farfield optical tools has emerged for optical imaging of biological samples below the diffraction limit. These Super-resolution techniques have opened new horizons in the understanding of key biological phenomena. The Hydra BioAFM is compatible with all optical modes of Super-resolution. It permits the integration of a dual microscope for STED. PALM and STORM with total internal reflection prisms and an upright microscope are readily allowed.

The Hydra BioAFM can combine AFM characterization with the following Super-resolution techniques:

  • STED
  • PALM






Starting in top left, moving clockwise: Linear Confocal, Non-linear Two Photon and Second Harmonic and Super-resolution Absorption NSOM Imaging of Living MDCK Cells With Dark Dots Indicating MicroVili Staining


NSOM: A New Frontier in Live Cell Imaging


Near-field Scanning Optical Microscopy (NSOM) marks a paradigm shift in Super-resolution imaging. Live cell imaging with this powerful technique has been compromised in the past by stiff AFM cantilevers. Today Nanonics, with VISTATM, achieves the potential of live cell imaging with NSOM.

Open New Frontiers of Super-resolution Optical Imaging (<100nm)

  • Permits absorption and fluorescence
  • Avoids the need for special dyes
  • Correlates all optical contrast methods with 3D topography
  • Allows highly confined zeptoliter illumination for fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) with physiologically relevant dye concentrations
  • Enables AFM correlated FRET and dynamic FRAP with time resolutions previously unachievable
  • Opens the door for the study of near-membrane phenomena with highly confined Z illumination


Below, an NSOM probe is seen approaching yeast cells. Depcited are 4 different perspectives:


Upright Microscope
Seen from above with an upright microscope
AFM image of the cells


Fluorescence NSOM
Transmission Absorption
Transmission Absorbtion NSOM















The Nanonics BioAFM platform offers a state of the art solution for biological imaging. Featuring high stability and unparalleled sensitivity, the system easily produces images of the most challenging biological samples with the highest resolution. Nanonics offers two BioAFM models in multiple configurations in order to address a wide range of budgets and experimental requirements.

MultiView 2000 BioAFM
  • Compact design
  • Versatile optical configurations
  • XYZ range: 180μm
  • Largest Z range of any commercial AFM



Hydra Multiprobe BioAFM
  • Multiple AFM probes for combined SPM measurements
  • Compatible with standard biological μManipulators
  • Keep your patch clamping pipette in place while imaging with AFM























Scanning Modes

Tip and sample scanning

Ability to scan either tip, sample or both

Tip Scanning Range

MV 2000 BioAFM: XY=90 µm2 and Z=90 µm 

Hydra BioAFM: XY=40 µm2

Sample Scanning Range

MV 2000: XY=90 µm2 and Z=90 µm 

Hydra BioAFM: XY=90 µm2 and Z=90 µm 

Closed Loop Scanner (optional)

XY=100 µm2 and Z=20 µm

Feedback Modes

XY=100 µm2 and Z=20 µm

High Q factor Tuning Fork feedback

Optical feedback (optional)


Optical Access

Clear optical access from above, below and side

Optical Microscope Configurations 

Integration with any research grade optical microscope



Dual optical microscopes (combined upright and inverted)

Compatible with high NA optical objectives including water immersion objectives from both above and below



NSOM Fluorescence

Confocal microscopes

Raman Confocal microscopes

Ability to integrate a variety of Super-resolution methods such as PALM/STORM/STED


Liquid cell with seamless optical integration from above and below

Optional PEEK liquid cell for caustic solutions

Compatible with SECM, SICM

Heating/cooling module using a programmable controller with mKelvin resolution 

Chamber for controlled environment with full optical integration for both upright and inverted microscopes

Inlets for gas and humidity control

Micro fluid control


All standard SPM operating modes including:

Force-distance spectroscopy


Nanolithography & Nanowriting

MFM, EFM, Kelvin, Thermal, Electrical resistance, I-V curves etc.


Dedicated system control and data acquisition

Customized scripts and synchronization of data by triggers in real time of imaging

Hybrid optical/AFM mode for control and synchronization of hybrid imaging techniques

User friendly software with video tutorials and on-line support by our experts

Data analysis and processing software




© 2017 Nanonics Imaging Ltd.