by Andre on 20 June 2006
Yesterday, after a frustrating morning in the lab, I was walking outside with my coffee when I decided that I needed to switch gears and do something a bit different. I had sticky surfaces on the brain, so it was no surprise (at least to me) that when I saw how smooth the upper surface of a leaf on the ground looked that I decided to put it under the AFM to see what I could see.
It was nice to find that some samples are easier to prepare than others. I cut out a rectangle with a razor, stuck it to a cover slip with a piece of double sided tape, and started imaging. The first image is a topograph, 150 microns on a side, of the waxy upper side of the leaf.
Nice, as far as it goes, but the real action happens on the underside. The second image is a topograph of the same size but taken on the other side of the leaf and it was a pleasant surprise to find that the stomata are close enough together to see a few without searching. I guess they’re important for something…
The last one is a close-up.
Finding unexpected intricacies in nature is one of the greatest pleasures in studying science and I find that taking the time to play a little keeps things in perspective. Of course, the pleasure is sweeter if you’re the first to observe something so as soon as I saw the stomata I checked if other people have done the same thing before and of course they have.** Is there anything that people haven’t imaged with an AFM? Suggestions are welcome. It has to be relatively flat (our instrument has a maximum height range of just over 16 microns) and should have interesting features on the nanometer to micron scale. Bonus points for transparent samples so that I can do some simultaneous optical microscopy. Double bonus points if it has features that fluoresce red. Naturally, you’ll find the results of your suggestions here in the coming weeks.