Figure S3 from A modified ‘NanoSuit’ preserves wet samples in high vacuum: direct observations on cells and tissues in field-emission scanning electron microscopy

Although field-emission scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM) has proven very useful in biomedical research, the high vacuum required (10−3 to 10−7 Pa) precludes direct observations of living cells and tissues at high resolution and often produces unwanted structural changes. We have previously described a method that allows the investigator to keep a variety of insect larvae alive in the high vacuum environment of the electron microscope by encasing the organisms in a thin, vacuum-proof suit, the ‘NanoSuit'. However, it was impossible to protect wet tissues freshly excised from intact organisms or cultured cells. Here we describe an improved ‘NanoSuit' technique to overcome this limitation. We protect the specimens with a surface shield enhancer (SSE) solution that consists of glycerin and electrolytes and found that the fine structure of the SSE-treated specimens is superior to that of conventionally prepared specimens. The SSE-based NanoSuit affords a much stronger barrier to gas and/or liquid loss than the previous NanoSuit did and, since it allows more detailed images, it could significantly help to elucidate the ‘real' organization of cells and their functions.