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Journal Article

A carbon nanotube tape for serial-section electron microscopy of brain ultrastructure


Mikula,  Shawn
Department: Electrons-Photons-Neurons / Denk, MPI of Neurobiology, Max Planck Society;

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Kubota, Y., Sohn, J., Hatada, S., Schurr, M., Straehle, J., Gour, A., et al. (2018). A carbon nanotube tape for serial-section electron microscopy of brain ultrastructure. Nature Communications, 9: 437. doi:10.1038/s41467-017-02768-7.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0000-7E05-E
Automated tape-collecting ultramicrotomy in conjunction with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is a powerful approach for volume electron microscopy and three-dimensional neuronal circuit analysis. Current tapes are limited by section wrinkle formation, surface scratches and sample charging during imaging. Here we show that a plasma-hydrophilized carbon nanotube (CNT)-coated polyethylene terephthalate (PET) tape effectively resolves these issues and produces SEM images of comparable quality to those from transmission electron microscopy. CNT tape can withstand multiple rounds of imaging, offer low surface resistance across the entire tape length and generate no wrinkles during the collection of ultrathin sections. When combined with an enhanced en bloc staining protocol, CNT tape-processed brain sections reveal detailed synaptic ultrastructure. In addition, CNT tape is compatible with post-embedding immunostaining for light and electron microscopy. We conclude that CNT tape can enable high-resolution volume electron microscopy for brain ultrastructure analysis.