Electron Microscopy


Electron microscopy is a technology for examining the extremely fine detail or ultrastructure of biological specimens for use in research and medical situations.

Keywords: ultrastructure; scanning; transmission; high resolution; high magnification; cytology; cells; microscope; micrograph

Figure 1.

Diagram showing the basic components making up the transmission (TEM) scanning electron microscope (SEM).

Figure 2.

This modern TEM has capabilities for scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) and X‐ray microanalysis.

Figure 3.

A scanning electron microscope (SEM) with capabilities for examining a hydrated specimen in a partial vacuum. This instrument also has X‐ray analytical capabilities. A portion of the X‐ray detector is shown in the top left (arrow) corner of this figure.

Figure 4.

Salmonella bacteria adhering to the surface of a rayon fibre. Note the three‐dimensional aspects of the image.

Figure 5.

A chain of bacterial cells as viewed in the TEM. These bacteria, Streptococcus mutans, are responsible for causing tooth decay. Compare the two‐dimensional appearance of this image to that shown in the previous figure. These cells have been prepared and ultrathin sections of 70 nm have been cut through the cells. These bacteria are 0.5 μm in width.

Figure 6.

A typical plant cell as seen in the TEM. Ultrathin sections reveal the interior of the cell in great detail. Note the nucleus (N), nucleolus (Nu), vacuoles (V) and cell wall (CW) surrounding the cell. Courtesy of Microscopy Society of America.

Figure 7.

Sectioned mammalian cells as viewed in the TEM. These cells are infected with a tumour virus, with some virus particles visible in the space between the two cells (arrow). N, nucleus; Nu, nucleolus.

Figure 8.

High‐magnification view of five tumour viruses from cells shown in Figure . Note the double‐layered nature of the membrane surrounding the top virus particle. This membrane is derived from the host cell and is approximately 8 nm in thickness.

Figure 9.

A herpesvirus particle from a patient suffering from shingles. This virus is responsible for causing both chickenpox and shingles. The central part of the virus particle, the capsid, is approximately 100 nm in size.

Figure 10.

Diagram showing the various parts of the virus particle in Figure .


Further Reading

Bailey GW, Jerome WG, McKernan S, Mansfield JF and Price RL (eds) (1999) Microscopy and Microanalysis, Proceedings of the Microscopy Society of America and Microbeam Analysis Society. New York: Springer‐Verlag.

Bozzola JJ and Russell LD (1998) Electron Microscopy: Principles and Techniques for Biologists, 2nd edn. Boston: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Dykstra MJ (1992) Biological Electron Microscopy: Theory, Techniques, and Troubleshooting. New York: Plenum Press.

Flegler SL, Heckman JW and Klomparens KL (1993) Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopy: An Introduction. New York: WH Freeman and Co.

Glauert AM and Lewis PR (1998) Biological Specimen Preparation For Transmission Electron Microscopy, 2nd edn, vol. 17 of Practical Methods in Electron Microscopy, Glauert, AM (ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Hayat MA (1989) Principles and Techniques of Electron Microscopy: Biological Applications. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Inc.

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How to Cite close
Bozzola, John J(Jul 2001) Electron Microscopy. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0002640]