The imaging performance of today’s generation of Transmission Electron Microscopes (TEMs) is improved dramatically through the use of a novel technique, the thin film phase plate.
JEOL offers thin film phase plate technology to customers involved in cryo-electron microscopy and cryo-electron tomography. The phase contrast imaging capability of a phase-plate outfitted JEOL TEM increases specimen contrast by orders of magnitude.
While phase plate technology—invented by Frits Zernike and awarded the Physic Nobel prize in 1953—is an accepted tool for live-cell imaging with the light microscope (LM), it is a novel approach to imaging with the TEM. Similar to the LM application, the TEM application employs a phase plate that shifts the phase of only the scattered electrons, resulting in amplitude contrast rather than phase contrast as these electrons interfere with the unscattered electrons in the image plane.
Extensive research has led to the further development of phase plate technology at the laboratory of Prof. Kuniaki Nagayama, Director & Professor of Okazaki Institute for Integrative Bioscience in Japan. Prof. Nagayama and his colleagues have illustrated the potential for routine phase contrast TEM imaging of frozen-hydrated macromolecules. Using custom software they have applied the phase plate imaging successfully to cryo-tomography.
JEOL’s TEM columns, designed for phase contrast cryo-electron tomography,can customize imaging parameters without sacrificing ease of use. Developments have led to continuously heated phase plate holders with piezo drives and software for precise positioning of the phase plate and zero loss energy filtering through an in-column Omega filter.
Image: Frozen-hydrated T4 phage and influenza A virus courtesy of the laboratory of Prof. K. Nagayama, Okazaki Institute for Integrative Bioscience, Okazaki, Japan.
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