Methods of Preparing Nanoscale Vitreous Ice Needles for High-Resolution Cryogenic Characterization

Shuo Zhang, Gediminas Gervinskas, Shi Qiu, Hari Venugopal, Ross K.W. Marceau, Alex De Marco, Jian Li, Jing Fu

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3 Citations (Scopus)


New high-resolution imaging methods for biological samples such as atom probe tomography (APT), facilitated by the invention of laser-pulsed atom probes and cryo-transfer procedures, have recently emerged. However, ensuring the vitreous state of the fabricated aqueous needle-shaped APT samples remains a challenge despite it being crucial for characterizing biomolecules such as proteins and cellular architectures in their near-native state. Our work investigated three potential approaches: (1) open microcapillary (OMC) method, (2) high-pressure freezing method (HPF), and (3) graphene encapsulation method. Diffraction patterns of the needle specimens acquired by cryo-TEM have demonstrated the vitreous state of the ice needles, although limited to the tip regions, has been achieved with the three proposed approaches. With the capability to prepare vitreous ice needles from hydrated samples of up to 200 μm thickness (HPF), combined use of the three approaches opens new avenues for future near-atomic imaging of biological cells in their near-native state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6501-6508
Number of pages8
JournalNano Letters
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2022


  • Atom Probe Tomography
  • Cryo-FIB
  • Cryo-TEM
  • Frozen-hydrated
  • Near-native state
  • Needle specimen
  • Surface modification
  • Vitreous ice

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