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Sci Rep. 2019 Nov 21;9(1):17292. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-53380-2.

Ultra-thin fluorocarbon foils optimise multiscale imaging of three-dimensional native and optically cleared specimens.

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Physical Biology Group, Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS), Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, D-60438, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Institute of Biophysical Chemistry and Center for Biomolecular Magnetic Resonance and Cluster of Excellence Macromolecular Complexes (CEF), Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.
The Francis Crick Institute, London, NW11ST, UK.
Department of Surgery, Erasmus MC - University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Physical Biology Group, Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS), Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, D-60438, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


In three-dimensional light microscopy, the heterogeneity of the optical density in a specimen ultimately limits the achievable penetration depth and hence the three-dimensional resolution. The most direct approach to reduce aberrations, improve the contrast and achieve an optimal resolution is to minimise the impact of changes of the refractive index along an optical path. Many implementations of light sheet fluorescence microscopy operate with a large chamber filled with an aqueous immersion medium and a further inner container with the specimen embedded in a possibly entirely different non-aqueous medium. In order to minimise the impact of the latter on the optical quality of the images, we use multi-facetted cuvettes fabricated from vacuum-formed ultra-thin fluorocarbon (FEP) foils. The ultra-thin FEP-foil cuvettes have a wall thickness of about 10-12 µm. They are impermeable to liquids, but not to gases, inert, durable, mechanically stable and flexible. Importantly, the usually fragile specimen can remain in the same cuvette from seeding to fixation, clearing and observation, without the need to remove or remount it during any of these steps. We confirm the improved imaging performance of ultra-thin FEP-foil cuvettes with excellent quality images of whole organs such us mouse oocytes, of thick tissue sections from mouse brain and kidney as well as of dense pancreas and liver organoid clusters. Our ultra-thin FEP-foil cuvettes outperform many other sample-mounting techniques in terms of a full separation of the specimen from the immersion medium, compatibility with aqueous and organic clearing media, quick specimen mounting without hydrogel embedding and their applicability for multiple-view imaging and automated image segmentation. Additionally, we show that ultra-thin FEP foil cuvettes are suitable for seeding and growing organoids over a time period of at least ten days. The new cuvettes allow the fixation and staining of specimens inside the holder, preserving the delicate morphology of e.g. fragile, mono-layered three-dimensional organoids.

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