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Limited angle STIM and PIXE tomography of single cells

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Andrea, T., Rothermel, M., Werner, R., Butz, T., & Reinert, T. (2010). Limited angle STIM and PIXE tomography of single cells. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms, 268(11-12), 1884-1888. doi:10.1016/j.nimb.2010.02.049.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-CE1F-3
STIM (scanning transmission ion microscopy) tomography has been shown to be a valuable method for the three-dimensional characterization of microsamples. It has, however, rarely been employed for the study of single cells, since a free-standing sample is needed for an ordinary tomography experiment. This requirement places high demands on sample preparation techniques. In this study cells fixated on a substrate rather than free-standing were used for tomography. Since the substrate prevented a full rotation of the sample an algorithm for limited-angle tomography was devised. STIM projections covering only a limited angular range of ca. 120° were supplemented with simulated projections generated from a back and forth iteration between real space and Radon space. The energy loss caused by the substrate was subtracted from each projection. The cells were reconstructed using filtered backprojection. The surface of the cells as well as some interior structures could be reconstructed. Following the STIM projections a lesser number of PIXE (particle induced X-ray emission) projections were taken in order to obtain information about the elemental distribution of the sample. From the PIXE projections the three-dimensional phosphorus distribution within the cell was reconstructed using limited-angle tomography. Superimposition of the STIM and PIXE tomograms revealed the location of intracellular structures. Whereas STIM tomography is sensitive to density contrast, which are greatest at the surface, PIXE tomography is sensitive to changes in elemental concentration. Hence, the combination of the two methods can be very fruitful, while the limited angle approach can compensate some of the difficulties associated with tomography of single cells, namely preparation difficulties and excessive sample damage.