Gold EM support grids (2015)

Chris Russo is developing improved methods of specimen preparation for electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM). In 2014 Lori Passmore and Chris published in the journal Science a new support made entirely of gold, that improves image quality in cryo-EM.

New supports for cryo-EM

Optical micrograph of an ultrastable gold substrate

Recent advances in cryo-EM mean that it is now possible to determine high resolution structures of proteins. Still, when protein molecules are imaged with the electron beam, they move, blurring the images. In addition, it is often difficult to routinely prepare reproducible and high quality specimens.

The new all-gold supports (UltrAuFoils ®) substantially reduce specimen movement in the microscope, allowing higher resolution images to be obtained.

Another development from Chris and Lori uses graphene to control protein distribution on supports (see paper in Nature Methods), until now a poorly controlled aspect of specimen preparation.

Patent and trademark applications were filed by LifeArc and the gold support technology has been licensed by Quantifoil Micro Tools GmbH.