Unlocking the Cryo-Domain: Bio-Cryo-Tomography from Micro to Atomic Scale

Project: Research project

Project Details


This proposal will support multiple ongoing research projects aligned with the ARO mission. These include (a) harnessing capabilities of microorganisms for applications from protection against nuclear hazards to providing rapid chemical sensing and production to the warfighter; (b) exploring the mechanobiology of chromatin as a means to control differentiation of stem cells used in tissue regeneration for conditions that affect the veteran and active duty population; (c) designing interfaces of bio-integrated devices for peripheral neuromodulation, stimulated healing, and monitoring of vital signs with broad applications for Army personnel; (d) understanding mi-crostructure and non-linear materials properties in hydrated and freezing granular media for de-velopment of next generation defensive barriers and enhancing trafficability in remote environ-ments; (e) characterizing electrochemical interfaces in energy materials, manufacturing, and cor-rosion. These research projects share the need for cryogenic imaging and tomography at multiple length scales. The overarching objectives of this proposal therefore are to (1) enable imaging of pristine, frozen-hydrated samples, both in 2D, and using tomographic “slice-and-view” approaches; (2) enable preparation of cryogenic samples for subsequent imaging by other cryo-techniques, in-cluding electron and X-ray microscopies; (3) enable transfer of samples at cryogenic temperatures and under high vacuum to other instruments. A fourth objective is to develop capabilities for analysis by atom probe tomography at cryogenic temperature (cryoAPT). Successful development of cryo-APT will enable a major leap: the ability to investigate the atom-ic scale structure and composition of a diverse set of samples, from interfaces to organelles and bacterial microcompartments all the way to natural and artificial synapses. In addition, we expect significant synergy for energy and low-dimensional quantum materials; nanomaterials for pro-grammable self-assembly; and aqueous interfaces in the context of the water nexus. Finally, we anticipate a major impact in the area of hydrogen and sulfide stress corrosion failure in metal al-loys, especially those fabricated by additive manufacturing and super-alloys. Taken together, cryogenic FIB-SEM imaging cryoAPT will have a lasting impact on a broad range of topics rele-vant to ARO, ONR, and the mission of other DoD and federal agencies. Towards these objectives, this proposal seeks funds to equip an independently purchased Fo-cused Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscope (FIB-SEM) with load-locks, cryo-stage, cryo-manipulator, and vacuum/cryo shuttles and other necessary equipment and control software.
Effective start/end date2/1/213/31/23


  • Army Research Office (W911NF2110052)


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