Single-molecule recognition of biomolecular interaction via kelvin probe force microscopy

Jinsung Park, Jaemoon Yang, Gyudo Lee, Chang Young Lee, Sungsoo Na, Sang Woo Lee, Seungjoo Haam, Yong Min Huh, Dae Sung Yoon, Kilho Eom, Taeyun Kwon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


We report the scanning probe microscope (SPM)-based single-molecule recognition of biomolecular interactions between protein kinase and small ligands (i.e., ATP and Imatinib). In general, it is difficult to sense and detect the small ligands bound to protein kinase (at single-molecule resolution) using a conventional atomic force microscope (AFM) due to the limited resolution of conventional AFM for detecting the miniscule changes in molecular size driven by ligand binding. In this study, we have demonstrated that Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) is able to articulate the surface potential of biomolecules interacting with ligands (i.e., the protein kinase-ATP interactions and inhibition phenomena induced by antagonistic molecules) in a label-free manner. Furthermore, measured surface potentials for biomolecular interactions enable quantitative descriptions on the ability of protein kinase to interact with small ligands such as ATP or antagonistic molecules. Our study sheds light on KPFM that allows the precise recognition of single-molecule interactions, which opens a new avenue for the design and development of novel molecular therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6981-6990
Number of pages10
JournalACS nano
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Sept 27


  • Kelvin probe force microscopy
  • biomolecular interactions
  • label-free
  • protein kinase
  • single molecule
  • surface potential

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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