Graphene-Enhanced 3D Chemical Mapping of Biological Specimens at Near-Atomic Resolution

Vahid R. Adineh, Changxi Zheng, Qianhui Zhang, Ross K.W. Marceau, Boyin Liu, Yu Chen, Kae J. Si, Matthew Weyland, Tony Velkov, Wenlong Cheng, Jian Li, Jing Fu

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The direct imaging of individual atoms within the cellular context holds great potential for understanding the fundamental physical and chemical processes in organisms. Here, a novel approach for imaging of electrically insulated biological cells by introducing a graphene encapsulation approach to “disguise” the low-conductivity barrier is reported. Upon successful coating using a water-membrane-based protocol, the electrical properties of the graphene enable voltage pulsing field evaporation for atom probe tomography (APT). Low conductive specimens prepared from both Au nanoparticles and antibiotic-resistant bacterial cells have been tested. For the first time, a significant graphene-enhanced APT mass resolving power is also observed confirming the improved compositional accuracy of the 3D data. The introduction of 2D materials encapsulation lays the foundation for a breakthrough direction in specimen preparation from nanomembrane and nanoscale biological architectures for subsequent 3D near-atomic characterization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1801439
Number of pages9
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2018


  • atom probe tomography
  • cellular imaging
  • graphene

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