this is my diploma thesis.
its about a special type of probe microscope: the scanning ion conductance microscope.
SICMthesis.pdf (in english)
The principle of the scanning ion conductance microscope (SICM) was invented
at the University of Santa Barbara by the Hansma Group AFM Lab.
It belongs to the family of scanning probe microscopes and works with specimen in
conductive solution at room temperature and atmospheric pressure.
The SICM uses conventional patch clamp devices for the measurement of ion
currents. The patch-clamp pipette is used as scanning probe. Due to the functional
principle of sensing ion currents no physical contact to the sample is necessary
during the scan. The movement of the scanning probe is accomplished by a piezo
The microscope is able to visualize highly irregular surfaces in a non-destructive
and deformation-free way and produces three-dimensional pictures of the specimen.
As opposed to other kinds of technical microscopes the SICM provides the
advantage of the ability to visualize living cells in their natural environment without the need to damage or kill them. The specimen needs only enough fixation to
prevent them from drifting. Even dynamical processes on the cell surface can be
Applications of the SICM range from corrosion research, quality control and
examination of technical and biological membranes to specialized medical and
pharmaceutical topics regarding cell and ion-channel behavior.
The SICM is an excellent research tool with an array of promising applications
in the fields of Biology, Micro- and Nanotechnology.