Zheng QS, Braunfeld MB, Sedat JW, Agard DA (2004) An improved strategy for automated electron microscopic tomography. J Struct Biol 147:91–101
A prediction-based scheme is proposed and implemented for automated electron microscopic tomography. By assuming that the sample follows a simple geometric rotation and that the optical system can be characterized in terms of an offset between the optical and mechanical axes, it is found that the image movement in the x, y, and z directions due to stage tilt can be dynamically predicted with desired accuracy (15 nm in x-y position and 100 nm in focus). Thus, the microscope optical system (beam/image shift and focus) can be automatically adjusted to compensate for the predicted image movement prior to taking the projected image at each tilt angle. As a consequence, it is not necessary to either record additional images for tracking and focusing during the course of data collections or to spend valuable setup time in a lengthy pre-calibration of stage motions. Furthermore, this scheme is also found to tolerate a significant degree of non-eucentricity and to be quite robust in the collection of regular and cryo low-dose images on thin or thick samples even at magnifications greater than 62000x and angular step as large as 10 degrees. For interested users the software can be freely downloaded for non-profit use at http://www.msg.ucsf.edu/tomography.
Automated data collection