Advances in cryogenic transmission electron microscopy for the characterization of dynamic self-assembling nanostructures

Christina J. Newcomb, Tyson J. Moyer, Sungsoo S. Lee, Samuel I. Stupp

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

25 Citations (Scopus)


Elucidating the structural information of nanoscale materials in their solvent-exposed state is crucial, as a result, cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) has become an increasingly popular technique in the materials science, chemistry, and biology communities. Cryo-TEM provides a method to directly visualize the specimen structure in a solution-state through a thin film of vitrified solvent. This technique complements X-ray, neutron, and light scattering methods that probe the statistical average of all species present; furthermore, cryo-TEM can be used to observe changes in structure over time. In the area of self-assembly, this tool has been particularly powerful for the characterization of natural and synthetic small molecule assemblies, as well as hybrid organic-inorganic composites. In this review, we discuss recent advances in cryogenic TEM in the context of self-assembling systems with emphasis on characterization of transitions observed in response to external stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-359
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2012



  • Amyloid fibril assembly
  • Block copolymer assembly
  • Cryogenic transmission electron microscopy
  • Hybrid materials
  • Peptide amphiphile
  • Self-assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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