Quantitative detection of gold nanoparticles on individual, unstained cancer cells by Scanning Electron Microscopy

Liesbeth Hartsuiker, Peter van Es, Wilhelmina Petersen, Ton van Leeuwen, Leonardus Wendelinus Mathias Marie Terstappen, Cornelis Otto

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Gold nanoparticles are rapidly emerging for use in biomedical applications. Characterization of the interaction and delivery of nanoparticles to cells through microscopy is important. Scanning electron microscopes have the intrinsic resolution to visualize gold nanoparticles on cells. A novel sample preparation protocol was developed to enable imaging of cells and gold nanoparticles with a conventional below lens scanning electron microscopes. The negative influence of ‘charging’ on the quality of scanning electron microscopes’ images could be limited by deposition of biological cells on a conductive (gold) surface. The novel protocol enabled high-resolution scanning electron microscopes’ imaging of small clusters and individual gold nanoparticles on uncoated cell surfaces. Gold nanoparticles could be counted on cancer cells with automated routines.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-193
JournalJournal of microscopy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • IR-96463
  • METIS-282017

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