Microscopy and Microanalysis

Experimental Characterization and Mitigation of Specimen Charging on Thin Films with One Conducting Layer

Kenneth H.  Downing  a1 c1 , M.R.  McCartney  a2 and Robert M.  Glaeser  a1 a3
a1 Life Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720-0001, USA
a2 Center for Solid State Science, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1704, USA
a3 Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Stanley/Donner ASU, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3206, USA

Article author query
downing kh   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
mccartney mr   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
glaeser rm   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Specimen charging may be one of the most significant factors that contribute to the high variability and generally low quality of images in cryo-electron microscopy. Understanding the nature of specimen charging can help in devising methods to reduce or even avoid its effects and thus improve the rate of data collection as well as the quality of the data. We describe a series of experiments that help to characterize the charging phenomenon, which has been termed the Berriman effect. The pattern of buildup and disappearance of the charge pattern has led to several suggestions for how to alleviate the effect. Experiments are described that demonstrate the feasibility of such charge mitigation.

(Received October 25 2002)
(Accepted January 26 2004)

Key Words: specimen charging; thin films; cryomicroscopy; electron crystallography.

c1 Corresponding author: E-mail: KHDowning@lbl.gov