“Quantum-enhanced diamond molecular tension microscopy for quantifying cellular forces”, a paper in Science Advances

Mar 26, 2024

Professor Zhiqin Chu of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and his team worked on the research for the topic “Quantum-enhanced diamond molecular tension microscopy for quantifying cellular forces”. The research findings were recently published in Science Advances on January 24, 2024.

Details of the publication:

Quantum-enhanced diamond molecular tension microscopy for quantifying cellular forces

Feng Xu, Shuxiang Zhang, Linjie Ma, Yong Hou, Jie Li, Andrej Denisenko, Zifu Li, Joachim Spatz, Jörg Wrachtrup, Hai Lei, Yi Cao, Qiang Wei,  Zhiqin Chu, article in Science Advances



The constant interplay and information exchange between cells and the microenvironment are essential to their survival and ability to execute biological functions. To date, a few leading technologies such as traction force microscopy, optical/magnetic tweezers, and molecular tension–based fluorescence microscopy are broadly used in measuring cellular forces. However, the considerable limitations, regarding the sensitivity and ambiguities in data interpretation, are hindering our thorough understanding of mechanobiology. Here, we propose an innovative approach, namely, quantum-enhanced diamond molecular tension microscopy (QDMTM), to precisely quantify the integrin-based cell adhesive forces. Specifically, we construct a force-sensing platform by conjugating the magnetic nanotags labeled, force-responsive polymer to the surface of a diamond membrane containing nitrogen-vacancy centers. Notably, the cellular forces will be converted into detectable magnetic variations in QDMTM. After careful validation, we achieved the quantitative cellular force mapping by correlating measurement with the established theoretical model. We anticipate our method can be routinely used in studies like cell-cell or cell-material interactions and mechanotransduction.