Letter | Published:

Autoradiography of Biological Tissues in the Scanning Electron Microscope

Naturevolume 247pages383385 (1974) | Download Citation



AUTORADIOGRAPHY combined with light or transmission electron microscopy has become a very valuable tool in biological research1,2. Light microscope (LM) autoradiographic resolution is, however, limited by the resolving power of the optical system. A ten to twenty times improvement in autoradiographic resolution (up to 50 to 70 nm) can be obtained in the transmission electron microscope (TEM) but a number of physical factors limit the system1,2 including the size and the sensitivity of the photographic emulsion silver halide crystal and the grain-size. Further, ultrathin TEM sections limit detection of radioactive material in labelled specimens by the very small fraction of total incorporated radioactivity present in such sections. This leads to a practical limitation of TEM autoradiography for, in addition to the already time-consuming preparation of ultrathin sections, high levels of radioactive labelling and long exposure times (about ten times that of LM autoradiography) must in general be used to compensate for the low efficiency of the procedure.

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  1. Department of Cellular Pathology, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, WC2

  2. Department of Geology, Royal School of Mines, Imperial College, London, SW7



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