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IBMB-CSIC acquires a state-of-the-art electronic microscope with the most advanced electrons detector

The microscope has been acquired by means of a cooperative project headed by CSIC, through IBMB, and has been co-financed by European FEDER funds. It is a cutting-edge technology for protein structure resolution, and it will allow facing the new biomedicine and biotechnology challenges.

Imagen del microscopio electrónico de transmisión criogénica (Cryo-TEM) FEG de 200 kV que se instalará en la plataforma de de Microscopía Crioelectrónica del Instituto de Biología Molecular de Barcelona (IBMB)

The Cryo- Electron Microscopy Platform of the Institute of Molecular Biology of Barcelona (IBMB-CSIC) has acquired, together with the IRB Barcelona, the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and the ALBA Synchrotron, a state-of-the-art electronic microscope. The equipment will be installed in the ALBA synchrotron facilities and will provide access to a fundamental tool for deciphering structures of biological interest. This Platform will offer the beneficiary and participating institutions, as well as other research institutions, a cutting-edge technology to face the new challenges in the field of biomedicine and biotechnology.

The new equipment consists of a state-of-the-art transmission cryo-electron microscope (Cryo-TEM) of 200 kV, which will be used both in tomography and other applications and for obtaining high-resolution data from individual particle analysis. Its high level of automation enables scientists to see efficiently the three-dimensional structures of proteins, as well as to understand their functional context in the cell.

Ten times faster

The microscope is equipped with a detector, called Falcon 4, which has a new architecture that enables capturing images 10 times faster than the previous generation and has a greater efficiency in the detection of electrons. This makes possible acquiring a complete set of high-quality images in a single day, giving scientists the opportunity to advance their research faster.

Moreover, the platform will be equipped with a vitrification robot called Vitrobot, a fully automated device for the vitrification (fast cooling) of biological samples. Vitrification is the process that transforms a material into an amorphous solid, similar to glass, but without any crystalline structure. In other words, by cooling the samples so quickly, the water present in them does not have time to form ice crystals, which would interfere with the images obtained, damaging their quality. By working this way, high-quality images are obtained and they allow the protein structure to be resolved at high resolution.