Visual introduction to CryoEM

proteins in different orientations in a electron beam

Cryo-Electron Microscopy

Cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is a cryomicroscopy technique applied on samples cooled to cryogenic temperatures (i.e. very cold!.) For biological specimens, the structure is preserved by embedding in an environment of vitreous ice.  (See more on the Wikipedia article Cryogenic electron microscopy.)

The following links are videos meant to present cryo-EM visually. Unfortunately, annoying noisy musical backgrounds often make it harder to understand the spoken word, as is sadly typical in “modern” videos.

Cryo-EM Animation 1:21

A very short animation to illustrate the basics.  It is extracted from a longer, 6:42 min version “The electron cryo-microscopy revolution.” Uploaded May 30, 2018

Source: the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) is a research institute in Cambridge, England, involved in the revolution in molecular biology which occurred in the 1950–60s.

A 3 minute introduction to CryoEM 2:58

This animation has more details on the algorithms used to solve the structures. Aug 17, 2011

Source: Gabriel Lander, PhD, Professor, Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology, Scripps Research. Bonus: download slides as PDF or as zipped png images.

Historical perspective

This video (4:59 min) titled “The 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Cryo-electron microscopy explained” provides a historical perspective on the development of the technique. Oct 4, 2017

Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson have been awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their development of cryo-electron microscopy.

Source: Chemical & Engineering News, a weekly news magazine published by the American Chemical Society.

Lecture: Single Particle Cryo-EM (34:06)

Speaker: Prof. Yifan Cheng (UCSF Biophysics & HHMI)

Part 1: overviews the principles of Cryo-EM – Sep 13, 2017

Part 2: Single particle Cyro-EM of membrane proteins (click link to see.)



cryo-EM: Cryogenic electron microscopy
HHMI: Howard Hughes Medical Institute
UCSF: University of California, San Francisco

Short Bibliography

Milne, Jacqueline L S et al. “Cryo-electron microscopy–a primer for the non-microscopist.” The FEBS journal vol. 280,1 (2013): 28-45. 

Phillip Broadwith. (2017, October 4). “Explainer: What is cryo-electron microscopy.” Chemistry World, Royal Society of Chemistry.