Scanning Electron Microscopy


It was investigated how to extract both morphometrical and X-ray elemental information from scanning electron microscopical (SEM) or scanning transmission electron microscopical (STEM)-images and how to integrate these two information streams either on line or off-line after storage.

Cytochemical reaction products in cell organelles in ultrathin sections are the biological structures of interest. In such organelles four different situations can be met: morphologically the structures are homomorph or heteromorph; chemically the elements are distributed either homogeneously or heterogeneously. A new program has been proposed and described, which permits determination of both the area and the mean net-intensity value of chemical elements, inhomogeneously distributed over heteromorph organelles. The value of this integration method is demonstrated by three examples of increasing complexity, starting with two elements which are more or less homogeneously distributed over one lysosome, the establishing of a platinum discontinuity in an acidophilic granule and finally the localization of two chemical elements inhomogeneously distributed over a rather heteromorph phagolysosome.

In two examples Chelex ion exchange beads, maximally loaded with the element also present in the structure of interest, are co-embedded with the tissue as internal standards. In such cases the absolute elemental concentration in the structures analysed can be established.

The presence of such cross-sectioned beads in the ultrathin sections is also used: 1) to demonstrate their function as models to select the proper conditions for the digital-controlled raster analysis of the unknown cell- or tissue structures, 2) to prove the value of this method.

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