Scanning electron microscopy of cells and tissues under fully hydrated conditions.
Thiberge S., Nechushtan A., Sprinzak D., Gileadi O., Behar V., Zik O., Chowers Y., Michaeli S., Schlessinger J., Moses E.
A capability for scanning electron microscopy of wet biological specimens is presented. A membrane that is transparent to electrons protects the fully hydrated sample from the vacuum. The result is a hybrid technique combining the ease of use and ability to see into cells of optical microscopy with the higher resolution of electron microscopy. The resolution of low-contrast materials is approximately 100 nm, whereas in high-contrast materials the resolution can reach 10 nm. Standard immunogold techniques and heavy-metal stains can be applied and viewed in the fluid to improve the contrast. Images present a striking combination of whole-cell morphology with a wealth of internal details. A possibility for direct inspection of tissue slices transpires, imaging only the external layer of cells. Simultaneous imaging with photons excited by the electrons incorporates data on material distribution, indicating a potential for multilabeling and specific scintillating markers.