Assessing the capabilities of a 4kx4k CCD camera for electron cryo-microscopy at 300kV

J Struct Biol. 2006 Dec;156(3):556-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2006.08.019. Epub 2006 Sep 22.


CCD cameras have numerous advantages over photographic film for detecting electrons; however the point spread function of these cameras has not been sufficient for single particle data collection to subnanometer resolution with 300kV microscopes. We have adopted spectral signal to noise ratio (SNR) as a parameter for assessing detector quality for single particle imaging. The robustness of this parameter is confirmed under a variety of experimental conditions. Using this parameter, we demonstrate that the SNR of images of either amorphous carbon film or ice embedded virus particles collected on a new commercially available 4kx4k CCD camera are slightly better than photographic film at low spatial frequency (<1/5 Nyquist frequency), and as good as photographic film out to half of the Nyquist frequency. In addition it is slightly easier to visualize ice embedded particles on this CCD camera than on photographic film. Based on this analysis it is realistic to collect images containing subnanometer resolution data (6-9A) using this CCD camera at an effective magnification of approximately 112000x on a 300kV electron microscope.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cryoelectron Microscopy / instrumentation*
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy / methods
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / instrumentation
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Nanostructures / ultrastructure
  • Photomicrography / instrumentation*
  • Photomicrography / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results