Rxivist combines preprints from bioRxiv with data from Twitter to help you find the papers being discussed in your field. Currently indexing 57,910 bioRxiv papers from 266,458 authors.
Although microscopes and image analysis software for electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM) have improved dramatically in recent years, specimen preparation methods have lagged behind. Most strategies still rely on blotting microscope grids with paper to produce a thin film of solution suitable for vitrification. This approach loses more than 99.9% of the applied sample and requires several seconds, leading to problematic air-water interface interactions for macromolecules in the resulting thin film of solution and complicating time-resolved studies. Recently developed self-wicking EM grids allow use of small volumes of sample, with nanowires on the grid bars removing excess solution to produce a thin film within tens of milliseconds from sample application to freezing. Here we present a simple cryo-EM specimen preparation device that uses components from an ultrasonic humidifier to transfer protein solution onto a self-wicking EM grid. The device is controlled by a Raspberry Pi single board computer and all components are either widely available or can be manufactured by online services, allowing the device to be constructed in laboratories that specialize in cryo-EM, rather than instrument design. The simple open-source design permits straightforward customization of the instrument for specialized experiments.
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