Directly measuring structural changes in water with a mechanical probe of lateral dimensions comparable to that of a single molecule provides an invaluable insight into how and why bio-molecules behave with high selectivity or why certain surfaces promote or inhibit bio-molecular adhesion. In the immediate vicinity of the molecule, continuum models break down and the aqueous environment will often form a discrete layered structure depending on the nature of the molecule. The absence or presence of such structure may be fundamental in influencing the promotion or inhibition of protein adsorption, biological function and membrane recognition.

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