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J Microsc. 1996 Aug;183(Pt 2):124-32.

Optimal strategies for imaging thick biological specimens: exit wavefront reconstruction and energy-filtered imaging.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute. University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco 94143-0448, USA.


In transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of thick biological specimens, the relationship between the recorded image intensities and the projected specimen mass density is distorted by incoherent electron-specimen interactions and aberrations of the objective lens. It is highly desirable to develop a strategy for maximizing and extracting the coherent image component, thereby allowing the projected specimen mass density to be directly related to image intensities. For this purpose, we previously used exit wavefront reconstruction to understand the nature of image formation for thick biological specimens in conventional TEM. Because electron energy-loss filtered imaging allows the contributions of inelastically scattered electrons to be removed, it is potentially advantageous for imaging thick, biological samples. In this paper, exit wavefront reconstruction is used to quantitatively analyse the imaging properties of an energy-filtered microscope and to assess its utility for thick-section microscopy. We found that for imaging thick biological specimens (> 0.5 microns) at 200 keV, only elastically scattered electrons contribute to the coherent image component. Surprisingly little coherent transfer was seen when using energy-filtering at the most probable energy loss (in this case at the first plasmon energy-loss peak). Furthermore, the use of zero-loss filtering in combination with exit wavefront reconstruction is considerably more effective at removing the effects of multiple elastic and inelastic scattering and microscope objective lens aberrations than either technique by itself. Optimization of the zero-loss signal requires operation at intermediate to high primary voltages (> 200 keV). These results have important implications for the accurate recording of images of thick biological specimens as, for instance, in electron microscope tomography.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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