Single gold-tagged epidermal growth factor (EGF) molecules bound to cellular EGF receptors of fixed fibroblast cells were imaged in liquid with a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM). The cells were placed in buffer solution in a microfluidic device with electron transparent windows inside the vacuum of the electron microscope. A spatial resolution of 4 nm and a pixel dwell time of 20 μs were obtained. The liquid layer was sufficiently thick to contain the cells with a thickness of 7 ± 1 μm. The experimental findings are consistent with a theoretical calculation. Liquid STEM is a unique approach for imaging single molecules in whole cells with significantly improved resolution and imaging speed over existing methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2159-2164
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 17 2009


  • Cellular imaging
  • Molecular labels


Dive into the research topics of 'Electron microscopy of whole cells in liquid with nanometer resolution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this