Multifunctional graphene supports for electron cryomicroscopy

Katerina Naydenova, Mathew J. Peet, and Christopher J. Russo

Proceedings National Academy of Science U S A

Volume 116, number 24, pages 11718-11724 (2019)

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1904766116


cryoEM, structure determination, graphene functionalization, low-energy plasma


With recent technological advances, the atomic resolution structure of any purified biomolecular complex can, in principle, be determined by single-particle electron cryomicroscopy (cryoEM). In practice, the primary barrier to structure determination is the preparation of a frozen specimen suitable for high-resolution imaging. To address this, we present a multifunctional specimen support for cryoEM, comprising large-crystal monolayer graphene suspended across the surface of an ultrastable gold specimen support. Using a low-energy plasma surface modification system, we tune the surface of this support to the specimen by patterning a range of covalent functionalizations across the graphene layer on a single grid. This support design reduces specimen movement during imaging, improves image quality, and allows high-resolution structure determination with a minimum of material and data.