Longer-Lasting Electron-Based Microscopy of Single Molecules in Aqueous Medium

Journal: ACS Nano

Published: 2018-07-18

DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.8b04190

Affiliations: 3

Authors: 5

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Research Highlight

Getting heavy with electron microscopy

© Science Photo Library - STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/Getty

© Science Photo Library - STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/Getty

Swapping ‘heavy’ water for regular water should allow scientists to use transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to observe biological materials in water using for longer before damage occurs.

Although a powerful technology for studying molecules in dry or frozen states, the high-energy electron beams used in TEM to probe molecules in water generate an electric charge that breaks chemical bonds and damage specimens.

Now, a team of scientists at the Institute for Basic Sciences has used a form of water called heavy water (D2O), which contains deuterium instead of hydrogen, when using TEM to observe fragile biological molecules. Furthermore, they encapsulated the samples in a tiny pocket between two graphene sheets to protect them from the electrical charge produced by TEM.

The scientists found that organic molecules dissolved in D2O lasted 2 to 5 times longer than those dissolved in water.

Supported content

  1. ACS Nano 12, 8572–8578 (2018). doi: 10.1021/acsnano.8b04190
Institutions Share
Center for Soft and Living Matter, IBS, South Korea 0.67
Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), South Korea 0.33