An in situ fracture device to image lipids in single cells using ToF-SIMS

Ingela Lanekoff, Michael E. Kurczy, Kelly L. Adams, Jakob Malm, Roger Karlsson, Peter Sjövall, Andrew G. Ewing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) imaging yields molecule-specific images showing the spatial distribution of specific lipids with submicron resolution, making it a potentially powerful method for studying a variety of biological questions in single cells. In order to make possible the analysis of hydrated cells in vacuum, we have designed a device for in situ freeze-fracture of cell samples. PC12 cells are frozen between two silicon shards in a sandwich geometry, and the fracture is conducted under vacuum inside the analysis chamber of the instrument. After freeze-fracture, ToF-SIMS analysis was carried out using a Bi cluster ion source, providing high-resolution images of single cells. We also show that when combining freeze-fracture and cluster SIMS imaging, low abundant biologically important lipids, specifically PE, PC and non-SM PC, can be imaged in single cells. Finally, K+ ion localization was used as a diagnostic to identify fracture planes through the cell for these fractured samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-260
Number of pages4
JournalSurface and Interface Analysis
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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