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Liten, a CEA Tech institute, has acquired a TEM (transmission electron microscope) holder, making it possible to observe nanoparticles in liquid at ambient temperature and at atmospheric pressure.
Using transmission electron microscopy to observe nanoparticles in complex environments required scientists to first attach the nano-objects by cryogenization—with the risk of compromising the characterization results. Liten recently acquired a new piece of state-of-the-art equipment that will revolutionize the observation process. The TEM holder, manufactured by Protochips, makes it possible to get high-resolution images of nanoparticles in a liquid phase at ambient pressure and temperature. The ability to observe nanoparticles in their natural environment (such as in water or blood) will enhance characterization and other studies, such as determining the particles' potential toxicity. Another benefit is the option of adding reagents during observation to study in real time the dissolution and modification of nanospheres.
Observations have already been completed on gold nanoparticles in water. The particles' size, shape, and agglomeration states were characterized in excellent conditions. The TEM holder will also be used to describe interactions between nanoparticles and living organisms in more precise and realistic conditions—useful in studying the interactions between nanodrugs and diseased cells or target cells.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.