Jake Rabinowitz, Andreas J. W. Hartel, Hannah Dayton, Jason D. Fabbri, Jeanyoung Jo, Lars E. P. Dietrich, and Kenneth L. Shepard Charge Mapping of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Using a Hopping Mode Scanning Ion Conductance Microscopy Technique. Anal. Chem., March 15, 2023.

Scanning ion conductance microscopy (SICM) is a topographic imaging technique capable of probing biological samples in electrolyte conditions. SICM enhancements have enabled surface charge detection based on voltage-dependent signals. Here, we show how the hopping mode SICM method (HP-SICM) can be used for rapid and minimally invasive surface charge mapping. We validate our method usingPseudomonas aeruginosaPA14 (PA) cells and observe a surface charge density of σPA = −2.0 ± 0.45 mC/m2 that is homogeneous within the ∼80 nm lateral scan resolution. This biological surface charge is detected from at least 1.7 μm above the membrane (395× the Debye length), and the long-range charge detection is attributed to electroosmotic amplification. We show that imaging with a nanobubble-plugged probe reduces perturbation of the underlying sample. We extend the technique to PA biofilms and observe a charge density exceeding −20 mC/m2. We use a solid-state calibration to quantify surface charge density and show that HP-SICM cannot be quantitatively described by a steady-state finite element model. This work contributes to the body of scanning probe methods that can uniquely contribute to microbiology and cellular biology.