[3dem] Layer of Solid Ethane on Cryo Plunge Grids

Bill & Sue Tivol wtivol at sbcglobal.net
Wed Nov 26 16:42:43 PST 2014

On Oct 9, 2014, at 9:01 AM, YY YY wrote:

> Dear All, i would like to hear from you on advices about the layer  
> of solid ethane formed on the cryo-plunge grids. I read on the past  
> discussions that the thin layer of solid ethane can be useful in  
> protecting the vitrified ice on the grid. I am currently using Gatan  
> Cryoplunge 3. After the grid is plunged and transferred (and if it  
> isn't blotted it to remove the excess ethane), a thin layer of solid  
> ethane is formed when i transferred it to the grid box submerged in  
> the LN2. However, quite often, the tweezer got stuck to the grids  
> and when i tried to detact it, the layer of solid ethane got  
> detacted from the grid as well.
> May i ask if anyone have systematically studied the effect of such  
> detachment and its impact on the quality of the vitrified ice? I  
> wonder if there is tearing action of the solid ethane from the grid  
> and might damage (or pull out the layer of the vitrified ice as  
> well) the sample?
> Best Regards,
> Yee Yan, Tay
> Nanyang Technological University

Dear Yee Yan,
	I have always supposed that the solid ethane provided a shield to  
keep water from condensing on the specimen.  I haven't experienced any  
negative effects from the detaching of the ethane when the tweezers  
are removed from the grid, and, since the ethane is soft and waxy,  
whereas the ice is fairly hard, I would not think that the ice would  
be damaged.  Since ethane is hydrophobic and ice is hydrophyllic, the  
attachment is probably Van Der Waals force mediated, so there is  
little energy involved in the separation process.  I have not,  
however, studied this systematically.

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