Visualization of unstained DNA nanostructures with advanced in-focus phase contrast TEM techniques

Yoones Kabiri, Raimond B. G. Ravelli, Tibor Lehnert, Haoyuan Qi, Allard J. Katan, Natascha Roest, Ute Kaiser, Cees Dekker, Peter J. Peters*, Henny Zandbergen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Over the last few years, tremendous progress has been made in visualizing biologically important macromolecules using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and understanding their structure-function relation.Yet, despite the importance of DNA in all forms of life, TEM visualization of individual DNA molecules in its native unlabeled form has remained extremely challenging. Here, we present high-contrast images of unstained single-layer DNA nanostructures that were obtained using advanced in-focus phase contrast TEM techniques. These include sub-Angstrom low voltage electron microscopy (SALVE), the use of a volta-potential phase plate (VPP), and dark-field (DF) microscopy. We discuss the advantages and drawbacks of these techniques for broad applications in structural biology and materials science.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7218
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2019




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