Nino F. Läubli,#1 Jan T. Burri,#1 Julian Marquard,1 Hannes Vogler,2 Gabriella Mosca,2 Nadia Vertti-Quintero,3 Naveen Shamsudhin,1 Andrew deMello,3 Ueli Grossniklaus,2 Daniel Ahmed, corresponding author1,4 and Bradley J. Nelson1


1Multi-Scale Robotics Lab, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
2Department of Plant and Microbial Biology & Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
3Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering, ETH Zurich, Vladimir-Prelog-Weg 1-5/10, Zürich, Switzerland
4Acoustic Robotics Systems Lab, ETH Zurich, Rüschlikon, Switzerland


Cell Biology


Quantitative micromechanical characterization of single cells and multicellular tissues or organisms is of fundamental importance to the study of cellular growth, morphogenesis, and cell-cell interactions. However, due to limited manipulation capabilities at the microscale, systems used for mechanical characterizations struggle to provide complete three-dimensional coverage of individual specimens. Here, we combine an acoustically driven manipulation device with a micro-force sensor to freely rotate biological samples and quantify mechanical properties at multiple regions of interest within a specimen. The versatility of this tool is demonstrated through the analysis of single Lilium longiflorum pollen grains, in combination with numerical simulations, and individual Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes. It reveals local variations in apparent stiffness for single specimens, providing previously inaccessible information and datasets on mechanical properties that serve as the basis for biophysical modelling and allow deeper insights into the biomechanics of these living systems.



For fluorescence imaging, an LED illumination system (pE-2, CoolLED) with an excitation wavelength of 480 nm was used to visualize the Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) in the C. elegans transgenic line.

Product Associated Features

The pE-2 was one of the first LED Illumination Systems available to offer wavelength flexibility, including 480 nm. 256 wavelength combinations are now possible with the pE-4000.

Product Type

pE-2 (Obsolete)


Nature Communications

Year of Publication


Country of Publication