Neuroscience with FluidFM®

Pattern, stimulate, inject into, and analyze single neurons.

FluidFM is a novel and innovative toolbox that opens up an array of possibilities for single neuron manipulation.

A key feature of neurons is that they communicate with each other and with their environment. Nevertheless, analyzing and understanding these interactions at a single cell level remains a key challenge in cellular neurobiology. FluidFM now provides an ideal tool to researchers in this field. By uniting the best features of microfluidics and force microscopy and using different force-controlled probes, FluidFM provides a wide range of innovative methods; from controlled patterned growth to single cell manipulation, stimulation, and analysis in a gentle manner perfectly suited for sensitive cells such as neurons.

FluidFM Neuroscience - Direct intra-nuclear injection into selected neurons


Define where axons shall grow

Pick & Place

Build micro-brains by creating neuronal networks


Apply neurotransmitters anywhere on the neuron


Deliver CRISPR complexes directly into the nucleus 


Track your manipulated neuron over time


Extract cellular content while keeping the neuron intact and alive

Empower your research with FluidFM

How FluidFM boosts your neuroscience

Create your neuronal network

The FluidFM ability to pick cells and place them at a specifically chosen location combined with its unique patterning method allows to create neuronal networks with ease and reproducibility. Control axon growth towards the cell of your choice and establish customized cellular interactions to study how neurons communicate with each other at a molecular level.

FluidFM Neuroscience - Controlled neurite growth with FluidFM

Image shows PLL line in green, printed with FluidFM between two groups of neurons. In red, neurite growth driven by PLL can be seen. Image courtesy of Harald Dermutz, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

FluidFM Neuroscience - Stimulate, inject into, and observe single neurons

Stimulate, inject into, and observe single neurons

Using FluidFM’s force-controlled probes, any soluble compound – for example ions, neurotransmitters, or neurotoxins – and particles like neurotropic viruses can be applied into or on single neurons at distal or proximal end. This makes tedious designs like the Campenot chamber obsolete. The system furthermore tracks the manipulated cells for long-term observation by brightfield and epifluorescence microscopy. 

Transfect and genetically engineer single neurons

With FluidFM, proteins and plasmids as well as CRISPR reagents can be directly injected into the nucleus. In comparison to other harsh transfection methods, the gentle insertion of the force feedback-controlled probe keeps the neuron fully viable. This makes FluidFM particularly suited for genetic manipulation of sensitive and hard-to-transfect cells such as neurons, stem cells, or primary cells.

FluidFM Neuroscience - Neuron expressing GFP 24h after injection of a plasmid. Courtesy Sen Yan, Jinan University.

Neuron expressing GFP 24h after injection of a plasmid encoding GFP using FluidFM. Image courtesy of Sen Yan, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China.

FluidFM Neuroscience - FluidFM cell extraction series. Courtesy Orane Guillaume-Gentil, ETH Zurich.

The series of image above shows HeLa-GFP cells before, during, and after extraction of cytosolic content by a FluidFM Nanosyringe. Image courtesy of Orane Guillaume-Gentil, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

Omics on single neurons

FluidFM enables gentle extraction of content from the cytosol or nucleus of single cells, not affecting cellular viability. Therefore, consecutive extractions from the same cell are possible with FluidFM. This overcomes challenges posed by cellular heterogeneity when interpreting data of time-dependent experiments at a single cell level and opens new applications in transcriptomics and proteomics.

Application note

FluidFM has been used in many neuroscience experiments. Learn from this Application Note how FluidFM can support your research. 

Selected FluidFM publications

How it works

Based on hollow force-controlled FluidFM probes

The core principle of FluidFM opening unprecedented possibilities for neuroscience are our patented, hollow force-controlled probes. The variety of available probe tips and aperture sizes enables distinct experimental designs as described above.
More on FluidFM probes & technology

FluidFM probes can be used with the FluidFM ADD-ON in combination with an existing AFM or with our standalone FluidFM OMNIUM system.
Learn more on the differences below

System comparison - FluidFM ADD-ON vs FluidFM OMNIUM

Find out which system fits your application and needs

Find out more about our systems

More on neuroscience

Application areas of FluidFM technology for neuroscience include neurogenerative disease, neuromuscular disease, brain tumors, neuronal development, neuronal network, molecular and cellular neuroscience.

Neurons depend on cell-cell interaction and communication with neighboring cells like other neurons as well as with glial cells like oligodendrocytes that form the insulating myelin sheath around axons. Therefore, it has always been the aim in neuroscience to look at the single cell level and to understand the processes for those cells to interact with each other. More recently, also the interactions with immune cells have gained increasing interest in the scientific community, specifically due to their importance in the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis. With FluidFM, individual cells of different types can be brought in proximity and their interaction investigated.

Neurons are difficult to transfect as they are typically non-dividing which makes the genomic DNA less accessible. Consequently, genetic editing with nucleases like the CRISPR-system is not successful with traditional transfection methods, such as electroporation, lipofectamine or viral vectors. The direct nuclear-injection ability with FluidFM however allows to directly bring nucleic acids or proteins into the nucleus enabling transfection and genome editing of neurons.