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Journal Article

Parameters affecting specimen flatness of two-dimensional crystals for electron crystallography


Vonck,  Janet
Department of Structural Biology, Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, Max Planck Society;

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Vonck, J. (2000). Parameters affecting specimen flatness of two-dimensional crystals for electron crystallography. Ultramicroscopy, 83(5), 123-129. doi:10.1016/S0304-3991(00)00052-8.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-B1ED-6
The flatness of two-dimensional (2D) crystals on the support film is a critical factor in protein electron crystallography. The influence of the carbon support film and of different grid makes and materials on flatness was investigated, using as a criterion the sharpness of diffraction spots perpendicular to the tilt axis of electron diffraction patterns of purple membrane tilted in the microscope at 45°. In a quantitative test, carbon film that had been evaporated without sparks forming gave a much larger proportion of flat crystals than “sparked” carbon. Titanium grids were superior to copper, probably because they introduce less cryo-crinkling of the carbon film when the sample is cooled to liquid nitrogen temperature, as their thermal expansion coefficient is closer to that of carbon. While the molybdenum grids from Plano were unsuitable for data collection because of their tendency of break the carbon, molybdenum grids from Pacific GridTech gave a much larger yield of flat crystals than the titanium grids. Scanning electron microscope images of the grids as supplied by the manufacturer showed that the Plano grids had very narrow and irregular grid bars, while the Pacific GridTech grids were very smooth with a large surface-to-hole ratio.