Atomic force microscopy (AFM) has proven itself to be a powerful and diverse tool for the study of microbial systems on both single and multicellular scales including complex biofilms. This chapter will review how AFM and its derivatives have been used to unravel the nanoscale forces governing the structure and behavior of biofilms, thus providing unique insight into the control of microbial populations within clinical and industrial environments. Diversification of AFM‐based technologies has allowed for the creation of a truly multiparametric platform, enabling the interrogation of all aspects of microbial systems. Advances in traditional AFM operation have allowed, for the first time, insight into the topographical landscape of both microbial cells and spores, which, when combined with high‐speed AFM's ability to resolve the structure of surface macromolecules, have provided, with unparalleled detail, visualization of this complex environmental interface. The application of AFM force spectroscopies has enabled the analysis of many microbial nanomechanical properties including macromolecule folding pathways, receptor ligand binding events, microbial adhesion forces, biofilm mechanical properties, and antimicrobial/antibiofilm affectivities. Thus, AFM has offered an outstanding glimpse into the biofilm, how its inhabitants create and use this complex adaptive interface, and perhaps most importantly what can be done to control this.
Part of the book: Microbial Biofilms
Nanofibers are an important material for regenerative medicine as they have a commensurate morphology to that of the macromolecular matrix that supports and houses the growth of cells and tissues within the body. Electrospinning is widely used to fabricate non-woven structures on the nanoscale and the versatility of the technique has widened the application of nanofibers. This is due to ease of extending nanofiber functionality through the incorporation of active materials both during and after electrospinning. Recent developments in electrospinning devices, such as needle-free systems, have reinvigorated research as these advances now allow fabrication of nanofibers at commercial scales. The process of electrospinning has a number of operating parameters that are adjusted in optimisation to achieve ideal fibres and a multitude of instrument configurations can be adopted to achieve the required manufacture. The innate properties of nanofibers, such as high surface area to volume ratio, have many proven benefits for regenerative medicine and the chapter examines these before discussing how functionality can be further improved. Numerous materials can be incorporated in the manufacture of electrospun mats, however when choosing materials for regenerative medicine, biocompatibility and biodegradability are the dominant functionalities that are required.
Part of the book: Novel Aspects of Nanofibers