10 July 2023

Last week, the Electron Microscopy Center of Radboudumc initiated operation of its recently installed brand new state-of-the-art transmission electron microscope (TEM). This achievement marks a major milestone in a comprehensive project that has established a unique national facility for liquid phase EM of biological materials, supported by the NWO Investment Grant Large ('NWO Groot') project BIOMATEM and a financial contribution from Radboudumc.

National facility for liquid phase TEM

Biological processes, both inside and outside our cells, occur at the nanoscale. Cryogenic EM (cryoEM), a Nobel Prize-winning technique, is now routinely used to visualize these processes by capturing detailed images of structures in a frozen, hydrated state. However, cryoEM provides only snapshots of the studied processes. Recently, liquid phase EM has emerged as a new approach for capturing dynamic nanoscale processes in liquid. But, it remains unexplored in life sciences due to the risk of damaging the delicate biological materials. The newly installed microscope at Radboudumc EMC addresses this challenge, allowing us to observe the dynamics of nanoscale structures of biological systems without causing damage. This dedicated facility positions Radboudumc as a leading institution in liquid phase EM for biology. The capability to observe real-time biological processes with nanometer resolution using liquid phase EM has the potential to be as revolutionary as cryoTEM was in the past. As an example, this technology will be used to study how collagen and nanosized minerals assemble to form bones. Understanding this phenomenon is vital for bone regeneration therapies and understanding diseases involving mineralization disorders like cardiovascular calcification.

Completing the portfolio of the Electron Microscopy Center

The installed Thermofisher/FEI TALOS F200C-G2 microscope is not only equipped with advanced technologies suitable for liquid phase TEM, but also enables cryoTEM investigations with utmost precision and effectiveness. Moreover, the center is equipped with a complete set of sample preparation setups to investigate a wide range of samples from diverse users, enabling groundbreaking research. The initiation of operations for this microscope completes the portfolio of imaging approaches available at the Radboudumc Electron Microscopy Center, which has the mission to support users from different fields of the life sciences in applying electron microscopy to address various biological questions. The EMC is open to engaging in discussions concerning potential liquid phase TEM or cryoTEM experiments with interested parties, including both existing and prospective users. For more information, interested individuals are encouraged to contact Rona Roverts.


The project is titled In Situ Imaging of Biological Materials with Nanoscale Resolution using Liquid Phase Electron Microscopy (BIOMATEM) and is led by prof. Nico Sommerdijk. Nijmegen co-applicants are Dr. Elena Macias, prof. Sander Leeuwenburgh and prof. Daniela Wilson (Radboud University).

About NWO Investment Grant Large ('NWO Groot')

The NWO Investment Grant Large ('NWO Groot') funding program finances large scientific facilities in which scientists from all over the Netherlands work together, often also with industrial and international partners. With this investment, many researchers can conduct innovative experiments and unlock new data. By making resources available for the purchase of high-quality equipment, data collections and software, NWO strengthens the scientific infrastructure of Dutch knowledge institutions. With these resources, NWO supports large national and international scientific projects, thereby also stimulating collaboration between scientists.

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