A newer twist on electron microscopy, developed in the 1980s, can reveal the internal structures of nerve cells. Researchers use a detergent to remove the cell membrane. Platinum and carbon are deposited onto the exposed surfaces to reproduce the cell’s interior features as a three-dimensional mold, which is then examined in the microscope. This image shows a hippocampal neuron that has been stripped of its membrane to expose the cytoskeleton, a scaffold that regulates the cell’s growth and movement.
Credit: Bernd Knöll (University of Tübingen), Jürgen Berger, and Heinz Schwarz (Max-Planck-Institute for Developmental Biology)