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A guide to investigating colloidal nanoparticles by cryogenic transmission electron microscopy: pitfalls and benefits

1 Adolphe Merkle Institute, University of Fribourg, Chemin des Verdiers 4, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland;
2 Chemistry Department, University of Fribourg, Chemin du Musée 9, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland

Special Issues: Structural analysis of macromolecules using Cryo electron microscopy

Synthetic colloidal nanoparticles are nowadays omnipresent. Nonetheless, adequately characterizing them and interpreting the data is challenging, as their surrounding environment, e.g. the medium they are dispersed in, is often an active contributor to their size, morphology and structural integrity. In this regard, cryo-transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) is an ideal methodology. This article provides a general guidance for beginners and experts encountering this technique on the common benefits and pitfalls when characterizing synthetic nanoparticles. Illustrative experimental examples are presented which cover the importance of water as a supportive and structural component, along with contrast generation and electron beam damage.
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