Electron microscopy image of lung cells

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We are a team of expert biomedical imaging scientists who collaborate with Crick researchers to image samples with high-performance imaging equipment, and a team of physicists who develop new hardware and software solutions for next-generation imaging experiments.

Scientists at the Crick use electron microscopy to study the structures of proteins, DNA, viruses, bacteria, yeast, cells, tissues, tumours and animals including worms, fruit flies and zebrafish. Analysing structures in minute detail means we can learn more about how they function, leading to new insights into health and disease.

Electron microscopes use a beam of electrons to image samples. The wavelength of the electrons is smaller than the wavelength of light, and so we can image the smallest cell structures that cannot be seen in a light microscope.

Scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) scan the electron beam over the sample to reveal surface features, while transmission electron microscopes (TEMs) pass the electron beam through a very thin slice of the sample to reveal internal structures.

The EM STP team collaborate with more than 60 Crick research labs on around 120 research projects every year. Each project is unique, using a tailored combination of sample preparation, imaging and analysis depending on the question and model system. We also train researchers to perform their own experiments where possible, through one-to-one training, courses and workshops.

In some cases, the equipment or techniques to answer a particularly challenging biomedical question do not exist. This is where the EM STP and the Microscopy Prototyping team work together to build new methods, hardware and software. We have developed and published new developments in correlative imaging, cryo microscopy, X-ray microscopy, volume electron microscopy, automated data analysis and citizen science.