Scientists could image SARS-CoV-2 using a helium ion microscope for the first time. In contrast to more traditional electron microscopy, helium ion microscopy does not require a thin metal coating on the samples. It allows a more detailed examination of interactions between coronaviruses and their host cells. The study demonstrates that the helium ion microscope can detect imaging coronaviruses precisely enough to observe the interaction between the virus and host cell.
An electron beam scans the cell and provides an image of the surface structure of the cell occupied by viruses using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). However, SEM has a drawback: during the microscopy process, the sample becomes electrostatically charged and must be coated with an electrically conductive coating.
On the other hand, the conductive coating alters the surface structure of the sample. Because helium ion microscopy does not require a coating, it allows for direct scanning. A helium ion beam scans the sample’s surface with the helium ion microscope for SARS-CoV-2 imaging. The resolution and depth of field of the helium ion microscope are higher.
This method improves the ability to image the SARS-CoV-2 virus interacting with the infected cell. Helium ion microscopy can aid in understanding the infection process in COVID-19 patients.
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