Better, faster, and even cheap

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Better, faster, and even cheap
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Summary

Cryo–electron microscopy (cryo-EM) enables access to structures of proteins that were previously intractable, including large protein complexes such as the ribosome (1), integral membrane proteins (2, 3), and highly heterogeneous or conformationally dynamic systems (4). Each sample is a vitrified layer of protein suspended over a support film on an EM grid. Despite recent advances in cryo-EM (the so-called “resolution revolution”) (5, 6), major barriers persist, including loss of the highest-resolution information through electron beam damage and blurring from sample movement (which is most pronounced initially when the sample is least damaged). Typically, tens of thousands of images must be averaged to compensate for signal loss. On page 223 of this issue, Naydenova et al. (7) describe a new specimen support film (see the figure) that not only improves both the quality of images and the efficiency of collection, but also does so at a relatively low price.

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