Embedding media based upon an epoxy resin of choice and the acid anhydrides dodecenyl succinic anhydride (DDSA), nadic methyl anhydride (NMA), and catalyzed by the tertiary amine 2,4,6-Tri(dimethylaminomethyl) phenol (DMP-30) are widely used in biological electron microscopy. These media possess a viscosity character that can impair tissue infiltration, particularly if original Epon 812 is utilized as the base resin. Other resins that are considerably less viscous than Epon 812 now are available as replacements. Likewise, nonenyl succinic anhydride (NSA) and dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) are more fluid than their counterparts DDSA and DMP- 30 commonly used in earlier formulations. This work utilizes novel epoxy and anhydride combinations in order to produce embedding media with desirable flow rate and viscosity parameters that, in turn, would allow the medium to optimally infiltrate tissues. Specifically, embeding media based on EmBed 812 or LX 112 with NSA (in place of DDSA) and DMAE (replacing DMP-30), with NMA remaining constant, are formulated and offered as alternatives for routine biological work.
Individual epoxy resins (Table I) or complete embedding media (Tables II-III) were tested for flow rate and viscosity. The novel media were further examined for their ability to infilftrate tissues, polymerize, sectioning and staining character, as well as strength and stability to the electron beam and column vacuum. For physical comparisons, a volume (9 ml) of either resin or media was aspirated into a capillary viscocimeter oriented vertically. The material was then allowed to flow out freely under the influence of gravity and the flow time necessary for the volume to exit was recored (Col B,C; Tables). In addition, the volume flow rate (ml flowing/second; Col D, Tables) was measured. Viscosity (n) could then be determined by using the Hagen-Poiseville relation for laminar flow, n = c.p/Q, where c = a geometric constant from an instrument calibration with water, p = mass density, and Q = volume flow rate. Mass weight and density of the materials were determined as well (Col F,G; Tables). Infiltration schedules utilized were short (1/2 hr 1:1, 3 hrs full resin), intermediate (1/2 hr 1:1, 6 hrs full resin) , or long (1/2 hr 1:1, 6 hrs full resin) in total time. Polymerization schedules ranging from 15 hrs (overnight) through 24, 36, or 48 hrs were tested. Sections demonstrating gold interference colors were collected on unsupported 200- 300 mesh grids and stained sequentially with uranyl acetate and lead citrate.