Cryo Transmission Electron Microscopy

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 to: Jacques Dubochet, University of Lausanne, Switzerland; Joachim Frank, Columbia University, New York, USA; and Richard Henderson, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK, “for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution.”

We are the only facility in Styria which is successfully using cryo transmission electron microscopy. This method is increasingly becoming a mainstream technology for studying the architecture of cells, viruses, lipid nanocarriers, nanoemulsions, and protein assemblies at molecular resolution. The cellular structure and composition are maintained under physiological conditions by rapid cooling to liquid nitrogen temperature. This is the reason why molecular movements are stabilised, the structure is preserved and observed in a cryo-TEM in its natural state.

Thus, cryo-TEM plays a vital role to the pharmaceutical industry  as long as research and development of new drug formulations as well as quality control of pharmaceutical products are concerned.

heller_liposomes_41x BF

Liposomes

As already mentioned, this technique involves rapid freezing of a flattened microdroplet of an aqueous sample in a cryogen (liquid ethane), which preserves the sample in a vitreous ice layer on a standard Cu grid supported with a holey carbon film. The sample is kept frozen at liquid nitrogen temperature during the investigation in the TEM. Watch our video to gain more insight!