Choice and Maintenance of Equipment for Electron Crystallography
The choice of equipment for an electron crystallography laboratory will ultimately be determined by the available budget; nevertheless, the ideal lab will have two electron microscopes: a dedicated 300 kV cryo-EM with a field emission gun and a smaller LaB6 machine for screening. The high-end machine should be equipped with photographic film or a very large CCD or CMOS camera for 2D crystal data collection; the screening microscope needs a mid-size CCD for rapid evaluation of crystal samples. The microscope room installations should provide adequate space and a special environment that puts no restrictions on the collection of high-resolution data. Equipment for specimen preparation includes a carbon coater, glow discharge unit, light microscope, plunge freezer, and liquid nitrogen containers and storage dewars. When photographic film is to be used, additional requirements are a film desiccator, dark room, optical diffractometer, and a film scanner. Having the electron microscopes and ancillary equipment well maintained and always in optimum condition facilitates the production of high-quality data.
Key wordsCryo-electron microscopy Electron diffraction High-resolution imaging Photographic film CCD camera Direct electron detector Specimen preparation 2D crystals
We thank Werner Kühlbrandt and all past and present members of the Department of Structural Biology for their support and contributions to the EM facility.