Scanning Microscopy


We have studied the capability of scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) to reveal the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecular structures that have been rendered conductive by metal-coating. The sample preparation used has been derived from a well established method in transmission electron microscopy (TEM). It includes adsorption, freezing and dehydration by vacuum-sublimation, followed by metal-shadowing of the specimen. As an alternative to adsorption and coating, fluid biomaterials can be replaced by conductive freeze-fracture replica.

We give an introduction into the sample preparation of metal-coated specimens and discuss how each step can affect the structural preservation and thereby the quality of the data. Some aspects of the data acquisition and the quantitative evaluation of STM data are shown. Possible contributions of STM in the biological macromolecular research are pointed out.

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