KENBIKYO Vol.49▶No.1 2014
■Researches Today

Observation of Living and Moving Organisms in a FE-SEM: A Successful Surface Shield “Nano-Suit” to Protect Animals in High Vacuum

Yasuharu Takaku, Hiroshi Suzuki, Isao Ohta, Daisuke Ishii, Yoshinori Muranaka, Masatsugu Shimomura and Takahiko Hariyama

Abstract: Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) has made remarkable progress, and has become an essential tool for observing the biological materials. However, various complex procedures preclude observation of living organisms to date. We reported previously that the simple surface modification gives rise to a thin extra layer, which we coined “NanoSuit”, and hence can keep them alive in the high vacuum (10-5-10-7 Pa) of a field emission (FE) SEM. In this research, to examine further the function of the NanoSuit, we investigated various raw specimens simply protected by NanoSuit in the FE-SEM. In addition to seeing spontaneous movements, we found that the surface fine structure of the living organism is very different from that of traditionally fixed samples. From these observations, we anticipate our findings to be the starting point for more sophisticated observation of living organisms with the electron microscope and for the creation of new areas of biology, chemistry and physics in order to explain how the NanoSuit forms a gas and/or liquid barrier based on the Surface Shield Effect (SS-effect) to preserve life under a vacuum.

Key words: Nano-suit, FE-SEM, Living observation