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University engineering and scientific research

The Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of
Cambridge uses Quorum Cryo-SEM preparation
system for research in plant biology

Quorum Technologies, market and technology leaders in electron microscopy coating and cryogenic preparation products, report on plant biology research at the Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge UK, where their PP3010T Cryo-SEM preparation system is in routine use.

The Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge University (SLCU) is a new research institute funded by the Gatsby Foundation. The aim of the Laboratory is to elucidate the regulatory systems underlying plant growth and development. The Laboratory hosts a state-of-the-art advanced imaging facility for scientists working on several aspects of plant developmental biology, including live imaging of developing plant tissues, and high-resolution scanning electron microscopy. The facility currently has four major instruments, two stereo-fluorescence microscopes and several dissecting microscopes. Dr Raymond Wightman is its Microscopy Core Facility Manager.

Studying plants using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was a challenge. Prior to having a Cryo-SEM preparation system, the lab would look at fresh plant samples that dried up and were hard to maintain while doing SEM. There was an urgent requirement for something to enable better imaging of fully hydrated plant tissue.

Asked about his experience using the Quorum PP3010T Cryo-SEM preparation system on the Zeiss EVO HD cryoSEM, Dr Wightman said "We have been impressed with the low maintenance costs and excellent applications support from the Quorum team. The system is now an integral part of the microscopy facility at the Sainsbury lab and because of the superior results we are getting now compared to before, the SEM use has gone up from about 8 hours per month to 64 hours per month. We are also able to process samples that we could not easily do prior to getting the Quorum kit."

Image: Dr Ray Wightman loads a biological sample via the Quorum PP3010T Cryo-SEM preparation system mounted on a Zeiss EVO HD cryoSEM. The other image shows yellow broccoli, cryo-prepared and platinum coated (5nm coating). Individual cells are clearly shown. (122x magnification).

The system has been used in multiple projects by the Laboratory. These have included looking at the following: wood ultrastructure and cellulose organisation; observing cellular membranes; making new biocomposites and studying their properties; studying the interactions between a plant pathogen and the plant cell; studying cuticular wax formation; determining how plant cells coordinate their growth across tissues e.g. leaves and flowers. A final project on the development and structure of leaves from alpine plants where 90% of the work was performed on the PP3010T will be published shortly. All of these serve to illustrate the versatility of the Quorum cryo-SEM preparation system.

The PP3010T is a highly automated, easy-to-use, column-mounted, gas-cooled cryo-SEM preparation system suitable for most makes and models of SEM, FE-SEM and FIB/SEM. To obtain full details of cryo-SEM preparation systems and other products available from Quorum Technologies, please visit www.quorumtech.com

Quorum Technologies in profile
Quorum Technologies are market and technology leaders in electron microscopy coating and cryogenic preparation. The company was founded in 2001 after the acquisition of the long-established Polaron brand and its range of electron microscopy (EM) products from Thermo Instruments. In 2005, they acquired the previously competitive Emitech company, allowing Quorum to extend their product range and to grow the business further.

Since the start, Quorum has been proactive in responding to industry requests and requirements for new instruments and techniques. This first culminated in the introduction of the market-leading Q Series of vacuum coating systems and PP3010T cryo preparation systems for SEM and FIB/SEM - both true ground-up redesigns that have truly set the standard within the specimen preparation field.

In 2009 further impetus and investment came with the acquisition of our company by Judges Scientific plc. The Quorum Technologies brand continues to prosper at their new, purpose-built factory and offices close to the South Downs National Park at Laughton, East Sussex in the South East of England.

In 2014 Quorum were proud winners of the Queen's Award for Enterprise for International Trade.

For further information for products available from Quorum Technologies, view website: www.quorumtech.com

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