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Int J Pharm. 2011 Sep 30;417(1-2):120-37. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2011.02.001. Epub 2011 Feb 16.

Cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) for studying the morphology of colloidal drug delivery systems.

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Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Institute of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmaceutics, Wolfgang-Langenbeck-Str. 4, D-06120 Halle (Saale), Germany.


Cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) has evolved into an indispensable tool for the characterization of colloidal drug delivery systems. It can be applied to study the size, shape and internal structure of nanoparticulate carrier systems as well as the overall colloidal composition of the corresponding dispersions. This review gives a short overview over the instrumentation used in cryo-TEM experiments and over the sample preparation procedure. Selected examples of cryo-TEM studies on colloidal drug carrier systems, including liposomes, colloidal lipid emulsions, solid lipid nanoparticles, thermotropic and lyotropic liquid crystalline nanoparticles, polymer-based colloids and delivery systems for nucleic acids, are presented in order to illustrate the wealth of information that can be obtained by this technique.

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