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Table 1 Comparison of representative methods in measuring cell mechanics [8, 14,15,16]

From: Application of atomic force microscopy in cancer research

Methods Advantages Disadvantages
Microfluidics High throughput (~ 1 cell/s); ability to control cell environment and approximate physiological conditions Be prone to cell adhesion and clogging; limited materials for fabricating devices; cell size is often neglected
Micropipette aspiration Simple and cost-effective; large range of force (up to ~ 100 nN) Low throughput; limited special resolution (< 1 cell/10 min); possible damage to cells; mainly for suspended cells
Micropost arrays Ability to measure the traction forces of single cells or cell populations Mainly for adherent cells; high cost and complexity; the topology of micropost arrays may influence cell activities
Magnetic twisting cytometry Probing the local mechanics of cells; magnetic beads can be bound with diverse types of cellular molecules or structures Low throughput (< 1 cell/min); difficult to standardize; only for unidirectional forces
Optical tweezers High precision measurements of small forces (0.01–103 pN); can be integrated with microfluidic delivery Limited force (< 500 pN) applied on cells; detrimental effects on cells due to heating
Parallel plate Simple and cost-effective; ability to study single cells of cell populations Low throughout; low spatial resolution
Atomic force microscopy Applicable for both suspended cells and adherent cells; simultaneously obtain structural and mechanical information with nanometer resolution Low throughput (< 1 cell/10 min); the mechanical poking of the AFM tip may influence cell activities