Insects are of interest not only as the most numerous and diverse group of animals but also as highly efficient bio-machines varying greatly in size. They are the main human competitors for crop, can transmit various diseases, etc. However, little study of insects with modern nanotechnology tools has been done. Here we use atomic force microscopy (AFM)  to study internal physiological responses of various insects by measuring surface oscillations in different parts of the insect at  sub-Angstrom level.   This allows us to record a much broader spectral range of possible surface vibrations (up to several kHz) than the previously studied oscillations due to breathing, heartbeat cycles, coelopulses, etc. (up to 5 -10 Hz). The method, being a relatively non-invasive technique providing a new type of information, may be useful in developing "nanophysiology" of insects.


Figure. The AFM setup used to detect surface oscillations. (a) A special insect holder that restricts the motion of the insect. Laser light reflected from the AFM cantilever is translated into the beetle’s vertical surface position.  (b) An example of the recorded signal, and (c) its spectra; curve 1 is the signal coming from a live beetle, curve 2 is the baseline signal recorded on a dead beetle. The room noise was recorded (curve “mic”) with a wide-band microphone in the vicinity of the holder.

Presently, we are expanding this method to humans with the help of photonic methods.

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