Traditional coating techniques in scanning electron microscopy compared to uncoated charge compensator technology: Looking at human blood fibrin networks with the ZEISS ULTRA Plus FEG-SEM.

06:00 EDT 6th August 2010 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Traditional coating techniques in scanning electron microscopy compared to uncoated charge compensator technology: Looking at human blood fibrin networks with the ZEISS ULTRA Plus FEG-SEM."

Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) studies surface morphology. Biological material needs to be coated to render the material conductive, and gold coating is traditionally used, although other coating material like carbon and ruthenium vapors may also be used. With modern SEM technology (e.g., ZEISS ULTRA Plus FEG-SEM), we are able to work at very low kilovolts and also view fine surface structure in much better detail than with previous older technology. Some machines also allow for the study of uncoated material, although this is usually not done with biological material. This study focuses on surface clarity by comparing gold, ruthenium vapor, and carbon coating techniques for biological material. Human fibrin networks are used as example. Uncoated specimens are also viewed with a ZEISS ULTRA Plus FEG-SEM because of its unique nitrogen charge compensator, and here, the first micrographs for uncoated human fibrin networks versus carbon, gold, and ruthenium coating are shown. We conclude that gold coating for biological material is not preferable with the latest SEM machines, as this method forms gold islands on top of the biological material and therefore produces a false surface morphology. Microsc. Res. Tech., 2010. (c) 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.

Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Microscopy research and technique
ISSN: 1097-0029


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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

A type of TRANSMISSION ELECTRON MICROSCOPY in which the object is examined directly by an extremely narrow electron beam scanning the specimen point-by-point and using the reactions of the electrons that are transmitted through the specimen to create the image. It should not be confused with SCANNING ELECTRON MICROSCOPY.

Microscopy in which the object is examined directly by an electron beam scanning the specimen point-by-point. The image is constructed by detecting the products of specimen interactions that are projected above the plane of the sample, such as backscattered electrons. Although SCANNING TRANSMISSION ELECTRON MICROSCOPY also scans the specimen point by point with the electron beam, the image is constructed by detecting the electrons, or their interaction products that are transmitted through the sample plane, so that is a form of TRANSMISSION ELECTRON MICROSCOPY.

Microscopy using an electron beam, instead of light, to visualize the sample, thereby allowing much greater magnification. The interactions of ELECTRONS with specimens are used to provide information about the fine structure of that specimen. In TRANSMISSION ELECTRON MICROSCOPY the reactions of the electrons that are transmitted through the specimen are imaged. In SCANNING ELECTRON MICROSCOPY an electron beam falls at a non-normal angle on the specimen and the image is derived from the reactions occurring above the plane of the specimen.

Scanning microscopy in which a very sharp probe is employed in close proximity to a surface, exploiting a particular surface-related property. When this property is local topography, the method is atomic force microscopy (MICROSCOPY, ATOMIC FORCE), and when it is local conductivity, the method is scanning tunneling microscopy (MICROSCOPY, SCANNING TUNNELING).

A type of scanning probe microscopy in which a very sharp conducting needle is swept just a few angstroms above the surface of a sample. The tiny tunneling current that flows between the sample and the needle tip is measured, and from this are produced three-dimensional topographs. Due to the poor electron conductivity of most biological samples, thin metal coatings are deposited on the sample.

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