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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Mar 9;101(10):3346-51. Epub 2004 Feb 26.

Scanning electron microscopy of cells and tissues under fully hydrated conditions.

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Department of Physics of Complex Systems, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


A capability for scanning electron microscopy of wet biological specimens is presented. A membrane that is transparent to electrons protects the fully hydrated sample from the vacuum. The result is a hybrid technique combining the ease of use and ability to see into cells of optical microscopy with the higher resolution of electron microscopy. The resolution of low-contrast materials is approximately 100 nm, whereas in high-contrast materials the resolution can reach 10 nm. Standard immunogold techniques and heavy-metal stains can be applied and viewed in the fluid to improve the contrast. Images present a striking combination of whole-cell morphology with a wealth of internal details. A possibility for direct inspection of tissue slices transpires, imaging only the external layer of cells. Simultaneous imaging with photons excited by the electrons incorporates data on material distribution, indicating a potential for multilabeling and specific scintillating markers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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