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MRS Bull. 2012 Jan;37(1):53-62.

Development of Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy in the Biological Sciences.

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National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The high sensitivity of electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) for detecting light elements at the nanoscale makes it a valuable technique for application to biological systems. In particular, EELS provides quantitative information about elemental distributions within subcellular compartments, specific atoms bound to individual macromolecular assemblies, and the composition of bionanoparticles. The EELS data can be acquired either in the fixed beam energy-filtered transmission electron microscope (EFTEM) or in the scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM), and recent progress in the development of both approaches has greatly expanded the range of applications for EELS analysis. Near single atom sensitivity is now achievable for certain elements bound to isolated macromolecules, and it becomes possible to obtain three-dimensional compositional distributions from sectioned cells through EFTEM tomography.

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