A brand new cryo-electron microscope is now available at Diamond, which brings with it a range of novel capabilities for the user community. The Krios I microscope came online in June as the first of four varied microscopes destined for Diamond’s new electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC). The new centre will open up the field of cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) for visitors to Diamond, allowing users to do more than ever before.
The new Centre, which will operate independently of the synchrotron beam, will contain two high-end Krios cryo-electron microscopes; this cutting-edge equipment allows users to investigate the structure of individual cells and to visualise single bio-molecules using techniques that are rarely available at home laboratories.
Concentrating advanced cryoEM equipment and expertise near the synchrotron site allows Diamond to offer visiting scientists a holistic approach to their research, with the opportunity to use a combination of different techniques to uncover information. Along with state-of-the-art facilities, the centre will provide training courses for structural and cell biologists, and remain cutting edge through strong, in-house research. In this way, Diamond is expected to become a hub for pioneering biological research.
eBIC is beginning to take shape, and the first of the Krios microscopes took its first users in June. Four external groups visited over the first one-week period, with two groups from the University of Manchester and the other two from the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London. The groups were able to interrogate a range of samples, including ribosomes, transcription factor complexes, and membrane proteins.
This array of samples demonstrated the vast potential of cryoEM as a technique on offer at Diamond. By pairing cryoEM with crystallography and other synchrotron techniques, users will be able to achieve both the high-resolution that comes with X-rays and the extraordinary breadth that is supported by cryoEM, yielding far-reaching and yet highly-detailed structural information.
Alistair Siebert is Senior Electron Microscopy Scientist for the electron Bio-Imaging Centre. He is responsible for assisting with the specification, testing, commissioning, and operation of the new Krios microscopes. For him, the first use of the microscope was a momentous occasion: “With eBIC, Diamond truly is breaking new ground, and it’s so exciting to be a part of that. We couldn’t be more pleased with the performance of the microscope so far, and I’m looking forward to showing the science community just how much we’re now capable of when it comes to cryoEM.”
Users wishing to access the new cryo-electron microscope at Diamond can apply for beamtime slots whenever calls for proposals are issued; this takes place twice a year with deadlines of 1 April and 1 October. Between these dates rapid access is possible for smaller allocations of time. eBIC will be accessed through peer review and is open to UK, EU, and international scientists. More information can be found on the Diamond website at: www.diamond.ac.uk/Science/Integrated-facilities
Senior Electron Microscopy Scientist Alistair Siebert (left) with Dr Alexey Amunts of Cambridge University – from the first team of users on Krios I.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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