Emory University Adds the DE-20 for Phase Contrast Cryo-Tomography

Posted on February 20, 2015 in News

Direct Electron, a leading manufacturer of high-performance cameras from electron microscopes, announces the installation of a Direct Electron DE-20 Camera System at Emory University for their state-of-the-art JEOL JEM-2200FS designed and engineered for Zernike phase contrast transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The addition of the new DE-20 direct detection camera to the existing in-column energy-filter and Zernike phase plates provides Emory with one of the most powerful and unique cryo-EM setups in the field of integrated structural biology.

Unlike conventional electron cameras that suffer from poor resolution due to conversion of electrons to light, the DE-20 directly detects each primary electron in the microscope to generate a much higher resolution image. The DE-20 is built on a 9th generation Direct Detection Device (DDD®) sensor with a large 19.7 megapixel field-of-view that delivers high contrast and resolution across a wide range of imaging conditions. Additionally, the DE-20 delivers “movie-mode” operation. For each image acquisition, the DE-20 collects a high frame rate “movie,” which can be processed to correct for specimen motion or other instabilities that occurred during imaging. This capability further improves image quality and the yield of usable images collected during each experiment. To maximize data collection efficiency, Emory researchers will operate the DE-20 through the SerialEM automation software.

Researchers at Emory will combine cryo-EM’s molecular-scale, three-dimensional (3D) imaging and analysis capabilities with correlative light and electron microscopy. This technology is being applied to fundamental questions about the assembly and trafficking of viruses, like RSV, within host cells. Emory’s cryo-EM center is directed by Dr. Elizabeth R. Wright, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, and Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Investigator. Dr. Wright studies the basic structure of several pathogenic viruses and bacteria in order to develop novel vaccines and therapeutics. Her research involves examining viruses, such as HIV-1, measles, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which are generally 100 to 300 nm in size. Specific targets include the examination of viral assembly and maturation, as well as the viral glycoproteins that attach to and fuse viruses to the target cell.

Benjamin Bammes, Direct Electron’s Director of Applications & Marketing, believes the combination of direct detection with other new TEM technologies such as phase plates will drive the next wave of discovery in structural biology. According to Dr. Bammes, “The addition of the DE-20 Camera System establishes Emory as one of the top facilities in the nation for studying viral infection of cells with electron cryo-tomography. For these kinds of experiments, the instrumentation must deliver high contrast and resolution in order to unambiguously visualize molecular details of interest, as well as a large field-of-view to capture the surrounding cellular context. The DE-20 delivers higher contrast and significantly better resolution than conventional TEM cameras, and it delivers the largest field-of-view of any direct detector on the market. Data quality is further boosted by the in-column energy filter and phase plates on their JEOL microscope. This combination places Emory at the leading edge of TEM instrumentation for cellular tomography.”

About Emory University

Emory University, recognized internationally for its outstanding liberal arts colleges, graduate and professional schools, and one of the Southeast’s leading health care systems, is located on a beautiful, leafy campus in Atlanta, Georgia’s historic Druid Hills suburb. Emory maintains an uncommon balance for an institution of its standing: its scholars and experts generate more than $521 million in research funding annually, while also maintaining a traditional emphasis on teaching. The university is enriched by the legacy and energy of Atlanta, and by collaboration among its schools, centers and partners.

About Direct Electron

Direct Electron is a world leader in developing and manufacturing premium performance cameras for electron microscopy. Direct Electron pioneered direct detection for TEM with their Direct Detection Device (DDD®) technology. Their continuing research and development springs out of partnerships between academia and industry. Direct Electron’s vision—Innovation Propelling Discovery—focuses their effort on customers and reflects their foundational commitment to premium performance with exceptional service and support.