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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

3D Imaging of Cells and Tissues by Focused Ion Beam/Scanning Electron Microscopy (FIB/SEM).

Integration of a scanning electron microscope (SEM) and focused ion beam (FIB) technology into a single FIB/SEM system permits use of the FIB as a nano-scalpel to reveal site-specific subsurface microstructures which can be examined in great detail by SEM. The FIB/SEM technology is widely used in the semiconductor industry and material sciences, and recently its use in the life sciences has been initiated. Samples for FIB/SEM investigation can be either embedded in a plastic matrix, the traditional means of preparation of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) specimens, or simply dried as in samples prepared for SEM imaging. Currently, FIB/SEM is used in the life sciences for (a) preparation by the lift-out technique of lamella for TEM analysis, (b) tomography of samples embedded in a matrix, and (c) in situ site-specific FIB milling and SEM imaging using a wide range of magnifications. Site-specific milling and imaging has attracted wide interest as a technique in structural research of single eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, small animals, and different animal tissue, but it still remains to be explored more thoroughly. In the past, preparation of samples for site-specific milling and imaging by FIB/SEM has typically adopted the embedding techniques used for TEM samples, and which have been very well described in the literature. Sample preparation protocols for the use of dried samples in FIB/SEM have been less well investigated. The aim of this chapter is to encourage application of FIB/SEM on dried biological samples. A detailed description of conventional dried sample preparation and FIB/SEM investigation of dried biological samples is presented. The important steps are described and illustrated, and direct comparison between embedded and dried samples of same tissues is provided. The ability to discover links between gross morphology of the tissue or organ, surface characteristics of any selected region, and intracellular structural details on the nanometer scale is an appealing application of electron microscopy in the life sciences and merits further exploration.[1]


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