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Focused ion beam milling of biological cells Return to case studies page

Dr Manoj Sridhar, Senior Instrument Manager from the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication and Dr Jing Fu, Lecturer, Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at Monash University are collaborating together on this project to find the optimum FIB milling conditions to mill away a very small, uniform thickness (~ 10 – 50 nm) of a single biological cell.

The ability to selectively remove such a thin, uniform layer from a single cell, coupled with protein nanoprobes, will be able to describe protein assemblies and their associated locations inside a cell, providing valuable information for drug delivery and targeted therapies. As a first step, we are characterizing the FIB milling rate of a single biological cell at different beam conditions to determine the optimum conditions for milling away thin, uniform layers of a single cell. Initial experimental results indicate that the FIB milling rate at 30 kV is approximately 2 µm3/nC while the milling rate at 5 kV is approximately 0.6 µm3/nC, indicating that it may be more suitable to use the FIB at 5 kV for delicate milling of cells.

Further experiments are currently underway to validate our initial findings and to characterize the cell morphology before and after FIB milling to determine the damage caused by the FIB milling process.

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