Naydenova, K. & Russo, C. J. Integrated wafer-scale manufacturing of electron cryomicroscopy specimen supports. Ultramicroscopy, 2022, 232, 113396
We present a process for the manufacture of electron cryomicroscopy (cryoEM) specimen supports with an integrated foil-grid structure, using cryogenic vacuum evaporation (cryoEvap) and patterned electroplating on a silicon wafer substrate. The process is designed to produce a pattern of nanometre scale holes in a thin metal foil, which is attached to a pattern of micrometre scale grid bars that support it and allow handling of the millimetre scale device. All steps are carried out on a single 4 inch (100 mm) silicon wafer, without any need to handle individual grids during processing, and yield about 600 supports per wafer. The approach is generally applicable to the problem of creating a thin foil with nanometre scale features and a micrometre scale support structure; here it is used to make an all gold, HexAuFoil type design. It also allows for the addition of custom fiducial markers and patterns which aid in locating and identifying particular regions of a grid at several length scales: by eye, in an optical microscope, and in the electron microscope. Implemented at scale, this manufacturing process can supply ample grids to support the continued growth of cryoEM for determining the structure of biological molecules.