Removing Plastic from EM Grids

Warning: Still under construction (more pictures?)

Several methods are avaiable for removing the plastic backing from purchased or home-made EM grids that have a carbon layer on top of a plastic (usually Formvar) layer. Some of these methods can also be used to remove residual plastic from Quantifoil holey carbon films.

Several of the methods that follow involve organic solvents and should be performed in a fume hood with the usual safety precautions. Also note that when removing carbon-coated plastic layers from grids such as Ted Pella type-A Carbon support films with a removable Formvar backing, extensive soaking in organic solvents is not recommended.

NOTE: Many people do not automatically pre-treat Quantifoil grids to remove residual plastic (though some do) and as a general rule, the less Quantifoil (and C-Flat) grids are handled, the better. However, residual plastic on Quantifoil grids will affect the reproducibility of freezing and the material should be removed if present.

We would like to thank all the people who responded to a question about such treatments that was posted to the 3dem mailing list. Details provided by Bob Grassucci and Teresa Ruiz were especially helpful.