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Rendering graphene supports hydrophilic with non-covalent aromatic functionalization for transmission electron microscopy
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Amorphous carbon films have been routinely used to enhance the preparation of frozen-hydrated samples for transmission electron microscopy (TEM), either in retaining protein concentration, providing mechanical stability or dissipating sample charge. However, strong background signal from the amorphous carbon support obstructs that of the sample, and the insulating properties of thin amorphous carbon films preclude any efficiency in dispersing charge. Graphene addresses the limitations of amorphous carbon. Graphene is a crystalline material with virtually no phase or amplitude contrast and unparalleled, high electrical carrier mobility. However, the hydrophobic properties of graphene have prevented its routine application in Cryo-TEM. This Letter reports a method for rendering graphene TEM supports hydrophilic—a convenient approach maintaining graphene's structural and electrical properties based on non-covalent, aromatic functionalization.
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