Silicon nitride windows for electron microscopy of whole cells


N. de Jonge, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, U.S.A. Tel: +1-615-322-6036; e-mail:


Silicon microchips with thin, electron transparent silicon nitride windows provide a sample support that accommodates both light-, and electron microscopy of whole eukaryotic cells in vacuum or liquid, with minimum sample preparation steps. The windows are robust enough that cellular samples can be cultured directly onto them, with no addition of a supporting film, and there is no need to embed or section the sample, as is typically required in electron microscopy. By combining two microchips, a microfluidic chamber can be constructed for the imaging of samples in liquid in the electron microscope. We provide microchip design specifications, a fabrication outline, instructions on how to prepare the microchips for biological samples, and examples of images obtained using different light and electron microscopy modalities. The use of these microchips is particularly advantageous for correlative light and electron microscopy.