Speed up single-cell adhesion measurements with FluidFM® systems

Traditionally, in Single Cell Force Spectroscopy (SCFS) assays, the object of interest is glued to an AFM cantilever resulting in complex handling and low throughput. Our FluidFM systems solve this issue by reversibly immobilizing a cell to a FluidFM Probe via suction, and subsequent release with a pressure pulse or brief washing. This gentle exchange of the cell allows the cantilever to be re-used for several measurements, saves time and costs, and results in a 10 times higher throughput compared to traditional methods.

FluidFM Mechanobiology - Single cell force spectroscopy

Measure up to 200 cells a day

Through simple & reversible immobilization

Huge force range

Measure forces from pN up to µN

Many cell types & colloids

For mammalian cells, microbes, and colloids

FluidFM systems for single cell force spectroscopy

Automated single-cell adhesion with the FluidFM OMNIUM system


The FluidFM OMNIUM is a highly automated system for measuring up to 200 single cells a day. Get reproducible, direct force measurements in high quality and with sound statistics.


High throughput


Direct force measurement


Easy-to-use & reproducible


Compatible with standard cell-laboratory materials

Your advantages of using FluidFM for single cell force spectroscopy

10x faster measurements compared to standard methods

As objects like cells or colloids can be quickly exchanged through reversible immobilization, measurement throughput is increased more than 10-fold. Up to 200 individual objects can be analyzed in a single day.

FluidFM Mechanobiology - Working principle of single-cell force spectroscopy with FluidFM

Working principle of single cell force spectroscopy with FluidFM.


Fast & easy. In this video, three micrometer colloids are attracted from suspension with a vacuum, held briefly, and then released again with a pressure pulse.

Simple - no glue needed

The suction method of immobilizing the objects onto the FluidFM cantilever makes it reversible and avoids any glue: Pick. Measure. Release. Repeat.

Many cell types and colloids supported

Cells and colloids come in a wealth of shapes and sizes. FluidFM single cell force spectroscopy works with adherent or suspension mammalian cells, spheric or rod-shaped microbes, and with colloids, bubbles, and droplets from 0.5 to 100 µm particle size. FluidFM can handle them whether they are hundreds of nm or dozens of µm in diameter. Customers have even analyzed non-colloidal E.coli cells.



FluidFM Mechanobiology - Cell

FluidFM Mechanobiology - Microbe

FluidFM Mechanobiology - Colloid

Adherent or suspension cellsSpheric or rod shaped. Algae, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi.
Colloids from 0.5 to 100 µm particle size. Also for bubbles, droplets.

Switch the probe anytime or reuse to save money

Whether due to degradation, contamination or a required change of probe geometry or chemistry – you can switch the probe at anytime. Just release the object, change the probe, and take up the object again. Our FluidFM Probes typically last for several force spectroscopy measurement days allowing the analysis of several hundred cells.

Self-centering – means reproducibility

The position of the object on the FluidFM cantilever is given by the position of the aperture. Thus, every colloidal probe will be centered automatically and at the same position – as long as the same FluidFM Probe is used. This results in highly reproducible positioning. 

FluidFM single cell force spectroscopy with a Bruker AFM

1) cell is selected 2) Cell is detached from surface 3) Resulting force spectroscopy. Image courtesy of Bruker.

10x higher force range

The various stiffnesses and opening diameters of FluidFM Probes enable to measure forces from tens of pN up to µN.

Pick from substrate or attract from solution, or even air

Pick-up cells directly from a substrate or attract them from a solution via liquid influx to the aperture of the FluidFM Probe. This method is also recommended when the long-term adhesion of a microbe to a substrate is too strong to quantify, and hence shorter-term interactions are studied. Some customers have also performed particle and microbe measurements in air.

Image and Text

S. Cerevisiae, also known as baker’s yeast, are picked-up from medium, measured and then deposited in a line with a FluidFM Micropipette. The cells stay fully viable through this procedure. Image courtesy of P. Dörig, ETH Zurich.

Learn how customers have benefited from using FluidFM in single cell force spectroscopy experiments

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Find the ideal FluidFM system for your cell adhesion measurements

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More on force spectroscopy

Physical studies of single cells allow insights into biophysical and mechanobiological phenomena in differentiation, growth, and proliferation. In cancer research, immunology and neuroscience, the mechanical properties of cells and their interactions with their environment such as with other cells (cell heterogeneity) or the properties of biological structures and surfaces are key parameters. Likewise, for implant materials there is a clinical need to understand and control how various cells adhere to it.

With FluidFM, biomechanical properties such as adhesion can be readily and efficiently measured, allowing to gain deeper understanding, to design novel experimental approaches, and to explore solutions to modify and optimize the desired properties.

Force spectroscopy promises critical insights in microbial biofilm formation, anti-microbial or non-fouling surfaces and more.

Microbes are fundamental to any ecosystem and the recent rise of the microbiome research field is just about to give us even more fascinating insights in their world and our co-existence. As pathogens, symbionts, or production organisms, they play an important role in clinical and pharmaceutical applications as well as for agricultural and industrial use.

As example, biofilm formation of microbes relies on adhesion to both the substrate and each other. By measuring these adhesion mechanisms, they can be understood and addressed in the further optimization of surface materials, like in the design of implants as well as anti-microbial or non-fouling surfaces.

Mechanical studies with FluidFM therefore give valuable insights for microbial research, extending the body of knowledge gained through classical biological research methods.

Colloids are ubiquitous in both industry and nature, being the key component in emulsions, foams, gels, and aerosols. Material and surface properties play an important role in their design. FluidFM enables analyzing mechanical properties like adhesion in a time- and cost- efficient manner, thereby accelerating research and new product development.