Naydenova, K., et al. Science 2020 DOI: 10.1126/science.abb7927

Cryo-EM is now widely used for imaging biological molecules but further advances in resolution that could yield enhanced structural data are impeded due to movement of water/ice layers that occur on exposure to electron beam irradiation.

HexAuFoil. Image courtesy of Neil Grant from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

The researchers developed a thorough understanding of the physics causing this movement and designed an optimised sample-support grid as a solution, which they call “HexAuFoil”. HexAuFoil fabrication requires careful substrate handling and precise deposition control, and is carried out using a Moorfield MiniLab 080 electron-beam evaporation tool with cryogenically cooled substrate stage and low-contamination base pressures below 3 × 10-8 mbar.

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