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Scientific reports

Avoiding drying-artifacts in transmission electron microscopy: Characterizing the size and colloidal state of nanoparticles.


PMID 25965905

Abstract

Standard transmission electron microscopy nanoparticle sample preparation generally requires the complete removal of the suspending liquid. Drying often introduces artifacts, which can obscure the state of the dispersion prior to drying and preclude automated image analysis typically used to obtain number-weighted particle size distribution. Here we present a straightforward protocol for prevention of the onset of drying artifacts, thereby allowing the preservation of in-situ colloidal features of nanoparticles during TEM sample preparation. This is achieved by adding a suitable macromolecular agent to the suspension. Both research- and economically-relevant particles with high polydispersity and/or shape anisotropy are easily characterized following our approach (http://bsa.bionanomaterials.ch), which allows for rapid and quantitative classification in terms of dimensionality and size: features that are major targets of European Union recommendations and legislation.