Visualization of Organic–Inorganic Nanostructures in Liquid

  • Vikas Mittal
  • Nadejda B. Matsko
Part of the Engineering Materials book series (ENG.MAT.)


The characterization of colloidal systems like pharmaceutical or hydrated chemical formulations by microscopic techniques is essential to obtain reliable data about the actual morphology of the system. Since the size range of colloidal drug delivery systems has long ago reached the lower end of the nanometer scale, classical light microscopy has been replaced by electron microscopy techniques which provide sufficient resolution for the visualisation of nano-sized structures. Indeed, the superior resolution and methodological versatility of electron microscopy has rendered this technique an indispensable tool for the analysis of nanoemulsions. Microscopic analysis of these lipid-based drug delivery systems with particle sizes in the lower submicron range provides critical information about the size, shape and internal structure of the emulsion droplets. Moreover, surfactant aggregates such as liposomes or multilamellar structures which remain unnoticed during particle size measurements can be detected in this fashion. This chapter provides a brief overview about both transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) techniques which have been employed to characterise colloidal solutions. Of special interest are sophisticated cryo techniques of sample preparation for both TEM and SEM which deliver high-quality images of pharmaceutical formulations in their natural state. An overview about the instrumentation and sample preparation for all presented methods is given. Important practical aspects, sources of error and common artefacts as well as recent methodological advances are discussed. Selected examples of electron microscopic studies of nanoemulsions are presented to illustrate the potential of this technique to reveal detailed and specific information.


Droplet Size Colloidal System Conventional Electron Microscopy Cryo Scanning Electron Microscopy Cryo Transmission Electron Microscopy 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chemical Engineering DepartmentThe Petroleum InstituteAbu DhabiUAE
  2. 2.Institute for Electron Microscopy and Fine Structure ResearchTechnical University of GrazGrazAustria

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