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Water without windows: Evaluating the performance of open cell transmission electron microscopy under saturated water vapor conditions, and assessing its potential for microscopy of hydrated biological specimens.

Water without windows: Evaluating the performance of open cell transmission electron microscopy under saturated water vapor conditions, and assessing its potential for microscopy of hydrated biological specimens.
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Cassidy C, Yamashita M, Cheung M, Kalale C, Adaniya H, Kuwahara R, Shintake T,


Cassidy C, Yamashita M, Cheung M, Kalale C, Adaniya H, Kuwahara R, Shintake T, (click to view)

Cassidy C, Yamashita M, Cheung M, Kalale C, Adaniya H, Kuwahara R, Shintake T,

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PloS one 2017 11 0312(11) e0186899 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0186899
Abstract

We have performed open cell transmission electron microscopy experiments through pure water vapor in the saturation pressure regime (>0.6 kPa), in a modern microscope capable of sub-Å resolution. We have systematically studied achievable pressure levels, stability and gas purity, effective thickness of the water vapor column and associated electron scattering processes, and the effect of gas pressure on electron optical resolution and image contrast. For example, for 1.3 kPa pure water vapor and 300kV electrons, we report pressure stability of ± 20 Pa over tens of minutes, effective thickness of 0.57 inelastic mean free paths, lattice resolution of 0.14 nm on a reference Au specimen, and no significant degradation in contrast or stability of a biological specimen (M13 virus, with 6 nm body diameter). We have also done some brief experiments to confirm feasibility of loading specimens into an in situ water vapor ambient without exposure to intermediate desiccating conditions. Finally, we have also checked if water experiments had any discernible impact on the microscope performance, and report pertinent vacuum and electron optical data, for reference purposes.

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