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Parallel Single-Molecule
Force Spectroscopy

Acoustic Force Spectroscopy (AFS™) is a new single-molecule and single-cell manipulation method capable of applying acoustic forces on hundreds of biomolecules in parallel for precise experimentation with high throughput.


Discover the power of sound

The essence of the AFS™ technology lies in a glass microfluidic chip with a piezo element that generates resonant acoustic waves (ultrasound). These resonant acoustic waves are used to exert forces on micrometer-sized particles with a different density than the surrounding medium — e.g. a polystyrene microsphere or a living cell.

The AFS™ G2 brings novel features and improved performance, such as the new automated XY stage, the drift correction option, integrated temperature control, and an individual electronic fingerprint per chip. These developments increase the data quality and improve the ease-of-use for highly-multiplexed force spectroscopy measurements.


Further reading:
Sitters et al. (2015) Acoustic Force Spectroscopy. Nature Methods


AFS™ enables scientists to investigate the mechanical properties of biological systems by probing them via synthetic microspheres or by directly probing the system itself (e.g. a cell). Due to the planar nature of the acoustic waves, experiments can be performed in a highly parallel fashion. This makes AFS™ an ideal tool to study a wide variety of biological systems, including, but not limited to: DNA manipulation, Antibody – antigen affinity, protein unfolding, cell manipulation, microrheology, lipid membrane interactions, enzymatic activity and DNA-protein interactions.

Browse our list of detailed AFS™ applications below.

Measure Enzymatic Activity

Measure DNA-Protein Interactions

Force Extension and Manipulation of DNA

Measure Antibody-Antigen Affinity

Measure Protein Unfolding


Measure Cell Mechanobiology

AFS™ Stand-alone G2

The AFS Stand-alone package allows you to perform force spectroscopy measurements straight out of the box. Start your force spectroscopy experiments right away, without the need for additional imaging tools. With a compact inverted microscope, five AFS flow cells, an intuitive image analysis software and a powerful workstation, the AFS Stand-Alone is the perfect solution for performing multiplexed single-molecule and single-cell experiments.

Acoustic Forces

• Maximum applicable force of >200 pN (Ø4.5 μm silica spheres)
• Minium force incremental step of 2 fN
• Loading rates ranging from 10-4 pN/s to 103 pN/s

Workstation & Software

Powerful workstation including LabView-based open-source software capable of:
• Real-time parallel 2D tracking of 1500 microspheres at 25 Hz
• Real-time parallel 3D tracking of 400 microspheres at 25 Hz
• Real-time position accuracy of 2 nm (XY) and 4 nm (Z) at 25 Hz

G2 Features

• Motorized stage for precise and fast sample movement in XY
• Exchangeable 39x, 26x and 13x magnifications included
• Five flow cells featuring smart functionalities for improved throughput

AFS™ Module

In addition to the AFS™ Stand-alone microscope platform, LUMICKS offers the AFS™ Module. Combine parallel acoustic manipulation with your own imaging methods. The AFS Module
is designed to be combined with inverted (fluorescence) microscopes, both commercial and home-built.

Acoustic Forces

• Range from 0 to 200 pN (4.5 µm diameter polystyrene microspheres)
• Static and dynamic force measurements with 14 bit resolution
• Loading rates ranging from 10-4 pN/s to 103 pN/s


Open-source software (LabView-based) capable of:
• Constant forces
• Dynamic force ramps
• User-defined time varying force profiles

G2 Features

• Large variety of upgrades and functionalities
• Integration support and design for your commercial or home-built system
• Five flow cells featuring smart functionalities for improved throughput

Highlighted Features

The AFS instrument is a versatile tool which can be used to answer a broad spectrum of research questions. Here we highlight two enabling features and their applications.

Imaging Possibilities

40x-Objective-Field-of-View acoustic force spectrometry

39x Magnification

Field of view: 291 x 183 μm

This 39x magnification is perfect for use with small particles or if a high tracking accuracy is required.


26x Magnification

Field of view: 437 x 274 μm

This 26x magnification provides a nice balance between parallelism and tracking precision.


13x Magnification

Field of view: 874 x 548 μm

This 13x magnification is ideal for highly parallel measurements where precision is not crucial.

Bead size = 4.5 μm. Included in AFS™ Stand-Alone


Integrated Temperature Control

Studying cells and biomolecules often requires precise control over the environment, including thermal circumstances. AFS flow cells come with heating ability included, allowing you to perform experiments under physiological conditions and investigate temperature-dependent events. The new integrated temperature control feature allows users to manipulate cells or biomolecules under biologically-relevant condititons and investigate temperature-dependent events in singlemolecule experiments. The flow cell applies heat over the full surface with an absolute accuracy of 0.2°C up to 40°C and a close loop stability of 0.1°C.

Specifications Overview

A detailed overview of options & specifications

Features AFS Stand-alone AFS Module AFS Module with integration package (tracking software, z-stage, illumination, camera)
Force calibration
Inverted fluorescence microscopy compatibility  ●*


Force-distance curves
Bond ruptures
Force application


* If the AFS chip holder is integrated on an inverted (fluorescence) microscope the same functionalities and applications as the AFS Module apply.

More information:


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