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The Institut Charles Sadron at the CNRS-University of Strasbourg Applies the Quorum Cryo-SEM Preparation System for Applied Research in Polymers and Self-Assembled Systems
Quorum Technologies, market and technology leaders in electron microscopy coating and cryogenic preparation products, report on how their PP3010T Cryo-SEM preparation system is being used to assist polymer and self-assembled materials research at the Institut Charles Sadron, CNRS-University of Strasbourg.
The Institute Charles Sadron is a CNRS-Institute located at the University of Strasbourg performing fundamental and applied research on polymers and self-assembled systems. Dr Marc Schmutz works in the Electron Microscopy facility where he uses a Hitachi SU8010 Ultra High Resolution Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope in conjunction with a PP3010T cryo-SEM preparation system from Quorum Technologies. It is used to study a broad variety of materials from crystalline polymers to the wings of dragonflies. It is vital to be able to observe samples in their native solvated state either hydrated or in organic solvents.
Describing his choice of cryo-preparation system, Dr Schmutz says, “We picked the Quorum system because of its regulation of temperature which is independently controlled on each part of the system (from cold stages to cryo-shields). This makes sure we will get the highest resolution when imaging our delicate materials.”
Examples of this work are shown in a recently published paper in the ACS Journal of Physical Chemistry where the drying mechanisms in plasticised latex films are studied with respect to their horizontal drying fronts. The drying kinetics of latexes with particles made progressively softer by adding increasing amounts of a plasticizer, in relation to speeds of horizontal drying fronts and particle deformation mechanisms are reported.  To examine the extent of particle deformation inside the dry films, a special sample holder was designed and built, allowing us to take cryo-SEM images of a cross section. Samples of the film were cut out with a razor blade, then fixed in the holder and rapidly plunged into liquid nitrogen slush (in the Quorum PP3010T PrepDek). After introduction into the preparation chamber, the films were then freeze-fractured at -150 °C with a cooled scalpel blade under high vacuum and coated with a thin gold layer. They were subsequently imaged in the SEM.
The PP3010T is a highly automated, easy-to-use, column-mounted, gas-cooled cryo-SEM preparation system suitable for most makes and models of SEM, FE-SEM and FIB/SEM. To obtain full details of cryo-SEM preparation systems and other products available from the Quorum Technologies website.