Cryo-EM—the first thirty years


  • This article is dedicated to Bob Gleaser.

Jacques Dubochet, University of Lausanne, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Biophore, CH 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland. Tel: +41 21 801 0349; fax: +41 21 692 4165; e-mail:


Thirty years ago, in December 1981, The Journal of Microscopy published a very short paper entitled ‘Vitrification of pure water for electron microscopy’. It turned out to be important for the development of cryo-electron microscopy and it contributed to reverse, from foe to friend, the status of water in electron microscopists’ minds. This change has brought obvious gains. The future will tell how many more are still to come.