Atomic force microscopy of human hair

J. Alan Swift, James R. Smith
  • Scanning, December 2006, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1002/sca.4950220506

Atomic force microscopy allows high-resolution imaging of human hair

Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash

Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash

What is it about?

AFM provides much greater detail of the surface of human hair than can be obtained using the scanning electron microscope. Cuticle surfaces previously supposed to be smooth have a higher roughness features. The original outer cuticle surfaces also have longitudinal ridges (striations), 9 nm high, with a repeat spacing of ca. 350 nm, presumably formed from earlier contact with the inner root sheath in the follicle. Variations in cuticle architecture over the length of a hair fibre are also reported.

Why is it important?

There is still much to learn about the structure of human hair. The more we can understand about this substrate, the more we can develop commercial products to treat such surfaces.


Dr James R Smith
University of Portsmouth

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