3D Analysis of Ordered Porous Polymeric Particles using Complementary Electron Microscopy Methods
J. Alvarez, G. Saudino, V. Musteata, P. Madhavan, A. Genovese, A. R. Behzad , R. Sougrat, C. Boi, K.-V. Peinemann, S. P. Nunes
Sci. Rep. 9, 13987 (2019)
Highly porous particles with internal triply periodic minimal surfaces were investigated for sorption of proteins. The visualization of the complex ordered morphology requires complementary advanced methods of electron microscopy for 3D imaging, instead of a simple 2D projection: transmission electron microscopy (TEM) tomography, slice-and-view focused ion beam (FIB) and serial block face (SBF) scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The capability of each method of 3D image reconstruction was demonstrated and their potential of application to other synthetic polymeric systems was discussed. TEM has high resolution for details even smaller than 1 nm, but the imaged volume is relatively restricted (2.5 μm)3. The samples are pre-sliced in an ultramicrotome. FIB and SBF are coupled to a SEM. The sample sectioning is done in situ, respectively by an ion beam or an ultramicrotome, SBF, a method so far mostly applied only to biological systems, was particularly highly informative to reproduce the ordered morphology of block copolymer particles with 32–54 nm nanopores and sampling volume (20 μm)3.