Danev, R. & Baumeister, W. Expanding the boundaries of cryo-EM with phase plates. Current opinion in structural biology, 2017 , 46 , 87-94
Phase plates have long been considered as a means for improving the performance of cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). But practical limitations, such as a short lifespan or cumbersome usage have prevented their widespread adoption. The recently developed Volta phase plate overcomes most of the practical issues and it is now commercially available. Results from both, electron cryo-tomography (cryo-ET) and single particle analysis (SPA), have demonstrated the benefits of using a phase plate. In CET phase plates have helped to visualize cellular ultrastructure in unprecedented detail. In SPA phase plates allowed to determine the structures of small proteins at near-atomic resolutions. Further improvements in phase plate technology are possible and new designs are already under development.