, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 345-358

Development of phase plates for electron microscopes and their biological application

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After slow progress in the efforts to develop phase plates for electron microscopes, functional phase plates with thin carbon films have recently been reported. An electron microscope enhanced with thin-film phase plates has practical advantages. It permits collecting high-contrast images of intact biological specimens without harsh and lengthy sample preparation, such as fixation, dehydration, resin-embedding, staining and thin-sectioning. This report reviews the state of the art for phase plates in biological electron microscopy and focuses upon the conditions required for functional thin-film phase plates. The current disadvantages of thin-film phase plates are also addressed and potential solutions are proposed.