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Research Centre for Electron Microscopy (FZEM)


The FZEM was founded at Freie Universität Berlin in 1999 as the successor to the electron microscopy department of the Institute of Animal Diseases and Microbiology. The Fabeckstraße site offers ideal structural and spatial conditions for the necessary equipment and work steps. Here, under the direction of PD Dr Christoph Böttcher, the self-organisation of small molecules in their native environment was intensively investigated using cryo-EM, which was just developing at that time.

Focus today: supramolecular chemistry and structural biology

Even today, many new supramolecular systems are still being investigated at the FZEM. With our 120 kV Talos L120C(R), initial insights can be gained quickly, while the equipment of our 200 kV Talos Arctica(R) microscope allows not only the production of exact two-dimensional projections of the aggregates, but also cryo-tomographic measurements to determine their three-dimensional structure. Nanoparticles, which can interact very specifically with biological systems in a multivalent manner due to their functionalisation, are now also regularly included among the objects of investigation.

With the acquisition of a 300 kV Titan Krios(R) microscope, we were able to expand our methodological expertise to include routinely collection and analysis of electron microscopic data for the so-called single particle analysis (SPA) method. This involves reconstructing the three-dimensional structure of protein complexes from several million individual particle images. The resolutions achieved down to the atomic range (at best down to 1.1 A) not only allow the exact determination of a final complex structure, but also enable the identification of the dynamic processes underlying its function.

Research Centre for Electron Microscopy (FZEM)