Among the billions of neurons to trillions of synapses networked intricately and purposefully, lies the answers to understanding memory, behavior, disorders and regeneration. Even in simple organisms, so much is unknown of the formation of neural circuits to produce functions like reflexes or even learning. 3D light- and electron microscopy are essential drivers of our understanding, where ZEISS has played a key imaging development role. Furthering our understanding, non-destructive X-ray microscopy (XRM) provides tomographic information to help navigate the complex neural structure. XRM bridges the gap between light and electron microscopy, and has found major utility to find regions of interest even in stained samples, aiding in the navigation to specific volumes of interest for 3D electron microscopy. XRM is solution key enabler to unravel the many questions of neuroscience such as neural coding of information or how translational medicine can prevent dysfunction.

Characterization and Analysis

  • Image specimen opaquely stained to find region of interest with sub-micron resolution
  • Utilize XRM in the workflow between light and electron microscopy to identify regions of a mouse brain for serial block face SEM imaging.
  • Create a 3D ultrastructure map non-destructively with sub-micron resolution of an entire drosophila to guide serial section electron microscopy to targeted volumes of interest.
  • Quantify normal and pathological small cerebrovascular changes in hemorrhagic stroke and subsequent hemorrhage-induced neovascularization



ZEISS Xradia 520 Versa

High resolution, non-destructive 3D X-ray microscope with spatial resolution <700 nm (70 nm minimum voxel size), and resolution at a distance, with absorption and phase contrast enabled by a unique dual magnification system



ZEISS Xradia 810 Ultra

ZEISS Xradia 810 Ultra
Nanoscale X-ray Imaging:
Spatial resolution <50 nm (16 nm minimum voxel size) to support advanced semiconductor device research and development


The Correlative Link

Correlative microscopy methods continue to occupy a central theme behind imaging developments within the life science microscopy community. Because it is fully acknowledged that no single microscopic imaging or characterization technique can provide a complete picture of a specimen, the challenge turns to finding practical methods of localizing the same feature in multiple microscopes. In the field of neuroscience, there is interest in creating complete neural network maps of brain tissue down to individual synaptic junctions, in order to extend our understanding of neural function and disease. The need for this information across length scales in 3D down to the nanometer length scale. Sample preparation requirements can be radically different for light microscopy compared to electron microscopy. Chemical fixation and heavy-metal staining procedures that are used to optimize EM contrast have the side effects of rendering previously transparent samples opaque in the light microscope as well as possibly modifying the bulk 3D. Therefore, in order to successfully navigate to a subsurface feature, a supplemental imaging approach using XRM can function as a bridge between light and electron microscopy. X-ray microscopy has the potential to fill this gap, exhibiting sufficient resolution and contrast on classically prepared stained EM tissue samples.

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neural network mapping, immunostaining, virtual sectioning, heavy-metal staining, dendrite, neural cell bodies