New Instrument

In early january 2019, we installed our second TT-AFM instrument from AFMWorkshop. We now have two fully independent AFM instruments.

Prize Winning Image and Magazine Cover

An image I produced from some work in collaboration with Ricardo Franco of UNL, and Thomas Hanscheid and Carolina Tempera of IMM, won the 2nd Prize in the category Electron Microscopy - Physical Science, in the Royal Microscopical Society 2014 Scientific Imaging Competition. This image was recently featured on the cover of the RMS Magazine (shown right). The image was titled Field of Petals, and shows an SEM image of hemozoin-like crystals secondary electron image measured at 15 kV. Image represents a magnification of ca. 5000x, the horizontal field width is 55 microns. These crystals are part of a project seeking to develop new antimalarial compounds. Sample provided by Carolina Isabel Glória Tempera, of the Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Lisbon.
magzine cover, click to see larger
Our Work on Tropical Diseases in the News
A news story about our work against leishmaniasis using frog peptides has been featured here on the AFMWorkshop site. The story is related to our collaboration with the group from UFPI in Brazil. The correct link to access the paper discussed is:
In related news, we are glad to welcome José Roberto Leite from UFPI to the group as a post-doc during 2015.

Special Visiting Researcher
I was made a "Pesquisador Visitante Especial" - Special Visiting Researcher at the Federal University of Parnaíba, Brazil. This will probably run from 2015 to 2018. The grant is funded by CNPq (Brazil). Among other things (I'll be in Brazil a lot!), we will have funding soon for a post-doc in Brazil, and a grant for a PhD sandwich student between Brazil and Portugal. The themes will be natural products, nanoparticles and AFM. Contact me if you are interested in either of these positions. See this news piece on the UCIBIO website for more details.

Well done Cristina!
Cristina Neves has successfully defended her PhD. Thesis, which was titled "Development of fluorescent silica nanoparticles encapsulating organic and inorganic fluorophores: synthesis and characterization"?. Congratulations to Cristina, who was awarded the degree with distinction due to her hard work and excellent defence.

New AFM Installed
 We have just installed a new instrument in the lab. It is an LS-AFM from AFMWorkshop. This is the first instrument of its kind in the world, and is a new atomic force microscope designed for life sciences applications. The instrument allows optical microscopy (including phase contrast microscopy), epifluorescence and AFM on the same sample. It also allows observation of the sample from above (reflected light), or below (transmitted light). It is ideal for examination of cells. Initial tests last week suggest the new instrument is going to have excellent performance. Optimisation and a more complete installation is ongoing.
This instrument forms part of the BIO-AFM network which means that any researchers who wish to use it should be able to. Please contact me via the email address at the bottom of the page if you are interested.
Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society
I was elected to be a Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society (FRMS). Thanks very much to the RMS for this honour.

Cristina wins Nano2012 and E-MRS Young Scientist 2013 Prizes
Congratulations to Cristina Neves, my PhD student, on winning a Young Scientist Award at the recent E-MRS Spring Meeting. She won the award for her presentation titled "Fluorescent Silica Nanoparticles based on Organic and Inorganic Fluorophores: Preparation and Characterization". This is the second prize Cristina has won for her work in the project on fluorescent nanoparticles. Cristina will soon be writing up, so if any other prospective PhD student are interesting in continuing work on this award-winning, FCT-funded project, they should contact me ASAP! Once again, congratulations for Cristina, and we hope to see this great work written up in thesis form really soon!

Requimte AFM Workshop 2013
  The AFM Workshop here in Porto took place last week. The course was a great success and we had lots of positive feedback. There's a blog post reviewing the course here:
Requimte AFM Workshop
Requimte AFM Workshop Prize
Congratulations to Leonor Soares who won the image processing competition in the Requimte AFM workshop 2013, with her image "Leonor hair details", which is shown here. Leonor prepared (and grew!) the sample herself, and scanned it along with Jorge, Inés Rocha and Tiago Galvão. She then produced this nice image which shows surface details very well.
hair image
Announcment of the Requimte 2013 AFM Workshop  Since the acquisition of two AFM instruments in Requimte two years ago, we've been training various users in the technique. A successful course was held in 2011, and now we are announcing the 2013 course. The course will be held in our laboratory in Porto, with two instruments for the students to use. The course will include 2 days of theory and two days of practice, covering both Image acquisition and data analysis. The course will take place between the 25th and the 28th of March 2013. Places are limited, so interested students are encouraged to reserve a place as soon as possible.
Visit for more information. Reservations can be made by emailing
Malaria Paper
  We have published a new paper relating some studies we've made of the development of the malaria parasite, plasmodium within liver cells (hepatocytes), using AFM. This is the first time anyone has ever studied the parasite in liver cells using AFM. In fact, there have only been a couple of studies of hepatocyte sat all. Our work reports not just AFM imaging but also nanomechanical measurements of the infected cells. The results show that it's possible to observe the growth and multiplication of plasmodium within the parasitophorous vacuole (PV) as it grows, and that this affects cell membrane texture.
But more importantly, we saw dramatic and significant changes in cells stiffness in infected cells. 48 hours after infection, the cells had stiffened by approximately ten times. This effect was seen in the main body of the cell, away from the location of the PV. This suggests that it is a reaction of the cell to the presence of the parasite. this is the first time that cell stiffness changes upon malaria infection have been seen in hepatic cells. The paper has been published in Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine, and can be found at:
There is also a local copy for download here: eaton_etal_malaria_nanomedicineNBM_reviewed.pdf
This work was carried out at The Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Lisbon. Many thanks to my colleagues from there, especially Nuno Santos for allowing use of the JPK Nanowizard II AFM. The full reference is:
P. Eaton, V. Zuzarte-Luis, M. M. Mota, N. C. Santos, M. PrudFncio, Infection by Plasmodium changes shape and stiffness of hepatic cells Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine 8(1), 17-19 (2012).
malaria images and link

This page was last updated on 22nd September, 2014.