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Surf Interface Anal. 2011 Jan;43(1-2):354-357.

ToF-SIMS imaging and depth profiling of HeLa cells treated with bromodeoxyuridine.

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  • 1National ESCA and Surface Analysis Center for Biomedical Problems, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195.


Time of flight secondary ion mass spectrometry 2D images and molecular depth profiles of human HeLa cells treated with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) were acquired in the dual beam mode (Bi(3) (+) analysis beam, C(60) (+) etching beam). Several preparation protocols were investigated and were compared to a simple wash-and-dry method. The feasibility of using C(60) to clean the samples prior to imaging with Bi was also investigated quantitatively by calibrating full depth profiles of the cells using atomic force microscopy. BrdU was used as a marker for the cell nucleus, facilitating identification and localization of sub-cellular features during depth profiling. Results show that C(60) can be used to remove the surface contamination and to access different layers within the cells for 2D imaging. For a 1 nA, 10 keV C(60) (+) beam incident at 45° and rastered over a 500 × 500 μm(2) area, ~1 nm of biological material was sputtered every second. Our results show that HeLa cells were completely removed after etching with 1.3×10(15) C(60) (+) ions per cm(2), giving an average etching rate of 3.9 nm for every 10(13) C(60) per cm(2) at 10 keV and 45° incidence.

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