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Environmental Liquid Cell Technique for Improved Electron Microscopic Imaging of Soft Matter in Solution

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 December 2020

Sana Azim
Affiliation:
Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Luruper Chaussee 149, Geb. 99 (CFEL), 22761 Hamburg, Germany
Lindsey A. Bultema
Affiliation:
Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Luruper Chaussee 149, Geb. 99 (CFEL), 22761 Hamburg, Germany
Michiel B. de Kock
Affiliation:
Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Luruper Chaussee 149, Geb. 99 (CFEL), 22761 Hamburg, Germany Centre for Structural Systems Biology, Department of Chemistry, University of Hamburg, Notkestraße 85, 22607 Hamburg, Germany
Ernesto Rafael Osorio-Blanco
Affiliation:
Freie Universität Berlin, Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Takustr. 3, 14195 Berlin, Germany
Marcelo Calderón
Affiliation:
POLYMAT & Applied Chemistry Department, Faculty of Chemistry, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Paseo Manuel de Lardizabal 3, 20018 Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain IKERBASQUE, Basque Foundation for Science, 48013 Bilbao, Spain
Josef Gonschior
Affiliation:
Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Luruper Chaussee 149, Geb. 99 (CFEL), 22761 Hamburg, Germany
Jan-Philipp Leimkohl
Affiliation:
Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Luruper Chaussee 149, Geb. 99 (CFEL), 22761 Hamburg, Germany
Friedjof Tellkamp
Affiliation:
Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Luruper Chaussee 149, Geb. 99 (CFEL), 22761 Hamburg, Germany
Robert Bücker
Affiliation:
Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Luruper Chaussee 149, Geb. 99 (CFEL), 22761 Hamburg, Germany
Eike C. Schulz
Affiliation:
Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Luruper Chaussee 149, Geb. 99 (CFEL), 22761 Hamburg, Germany
Sercan Keskin
Affiliation:
INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials, Campus D2 2, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany
Niels de Jonge
Affiliation:
INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials, Campus D2 2, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany Department of Physics, Saarland University, Campus D2 2, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany
Günther H. Kassier
Affiliation:
Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Luruper Chaussee 149, Geb. 99 (CFEL), 22761 Hamburg, Germany
R.J. Dwayne Miller
Affiliation:
Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Luruper Chaussee 149, Geb. 99 (CFEL), 22761 Hamburg, Germany Departments of Chemistry and Physics, University of Toronto, 80 St. Georg Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3H6, Canada
Corresponding

Abstract

Liquid-phase transmission electron microscopy is a technique for simultaneous imaging of the structure and dynamics of specimens in a liquid environment. The conventional sample geometry consists of a liquid layer tightly sandwiched between two Si3N4 windows with a nominal spacing on the order of 0.5 μm. We describe a variation of the conventional approach, wherein the Si3N4 windows are separated by a 10-μm-thick spacer, thus providing room for gas flow inside the liquid specimen enclosure. Adjusting the pressure and flow speed of humid air inside this environmental liquid cell (ELC) creates a stable liquid layer of controllable thickness on the bottom window, thus facilitating high-resolution observations of low mass-thickness contrast objects at low electron doses. We demonstrate controllable liquid thicknesses in the range 160 ± 34 to 340 ± 71 nm resulting in corresponding edge resolutions of 0.8 ± 0.06 to 1.7 ± 0.8 nm as measured for immersed gold nanoparticles. Liquid layer thickness 40 ± 8 nm allowed imaging of low-contrast polystyrene particles. Hydration effects in the ELC have been studied using poly-N-isopropylacrylamide nanogels with a silica core. Therefore, ELC can be a suitable tool for in situ investigations of liquid specimens.

Type
Software and Instrumentation
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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Footnotes

Sana Azim and Lindsey A. Bultema are the co-first authors and equally contributed to this work.

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