A team of Foundry users and staff have developed a new technique in cryo-electron microscopy to image synthetic polymers with atomic-scale resolution.
Significance and Impact
This is the first time a polymer has been imaged with 2 angstrom resolution. The new technique will inform polymer fabrication methods and lead to new designs for materials and devices that incorporate polymers.
- The research team synthesized peptoid polymers, froze them to preserve their structure, and then imaged them using an electron beam.
- The researchers were able to obtain images with 2 angstrom resolution by taking over 500,000 blurry images, sorting different motifs into different “bins,” and averaging the images in each bin.
- The sorting methods they used were based on algorithms developed by the structural biology community to image the atomic structure of proteins
- The team used molecular dynamic simulations to build an atomic model of the crystal structure to facilitate the interpretation of the images.