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In this article, we review some of the recent developments in instrumentation and methods that have led to the rise of cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) in the life sciences community, and consider how researchers in the materials community might benefit from these advances. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is compared with scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) for cryogenic imaging in both biological and materials science applications. We discuss the developments in detector technologies that have in part powered the development of cryo-EM and anticipate exciting areas for productive overlap between life science and materials science cryo-EM applications.
The OSU-FEI Electron Microscopy Collaboratory multiplies the number of individuals who can experience hands-on advanced microscopy techniques. The microscopy classroom allows up to 33 attendees to operate, individually and in real time, electron microscopes as if they were sitting in front of the actual instruments. The communications link, a fast backbone augmented by Internet2, allows various microscopes to be operated from the classroom or by collaborators in another city. This system transforms the training of new users from a one-person-at-a-time session with an expert operator to a group collaborative activity that can include users from around the world.
This paper reports on the substantial improvement of specimen quality by use of a low voltage (0.05 to ~1 keV), small diameter (~1 μm), argon ion beam following initial preparation using conventional broad-beam ion milling or focused ion beam. The specimens show significant reductions in the amorphous layer thickness and implanted artifacts. The targeted ion milling controls the specimen thickness according to the needs of advanced aberration-corrected and/or analytical transmission electron microscopy applications.