ZEISS Crossbeam cryo FIB / SEM – a new microscope at the Research Complex

26 Nov 2019

ZEISS Crossbeam cryo FIB / SEM – a new microscope at the Research Complex that will transform our ability to image and study molecules in cells

Nearly £1M funding has been successfully secured by the Central Laser Facility’s RCaH based Octopus group for a Cryo-focused ion beam /scanning electron microscope (ZEISS Crossbeam FIB-SEM), funded by a BBSRC Alert 18 grant with a substantial contribution from the CLF.
This instrument is capable of imaging cryo-preserved samples in an emerging modality called “slice and view” which allows high resolution imaging of cells in near-native conditions, without chemical fixation or contrasting agents. It complements the existing RCaH expertise in optical imaging and EM facilities. Coupled to super resolution microscopy with light, it has the potential to transform our ability to study molecules in their ultrastructural context within cells, using a technique called Correlative Light-Electron Microscopy (CLEM).


Professor Marisa Martin-Fernandez, who made the successful application for the BBSRC funding of the ZEISS Crossbeam FIB-SEM commented:
“This new microscope will allow us to push the envelope of what is currently possible with cryo-CLEM and to home in on cellular processes that underlie faulty signalling and the development of tumours.“

The three main objectives of the grant are:

1) Optimisation of a cryo-CLEM workflow between existing super-resolution microscopy facilities operating for users at the RCaH and the RCaH mid-range cryo-EM facilities;

2) substantially increase the resolution currently possible;

3) proof-of-concept serial FIB milling and block face imaging of cryo-fixed 3D tissue to explore the possibility of image correlation of 3D SEM images with existing local systems (e.g. light sheet microscopy).

The grant’s duration is 1 year during which the system will be commissioned. Thereafter, the system will be made available to the UK community as part of the OCTOPUS imaging facility based at the RCaH, via the existing CLF open peer review access mechanisms.