Ultrastructural comparison of ion beam and radiofrequency plasma etching effects on biological tissue sections.
Three dry etching techniques (Ar+ ion beam, O2+ ion beam, O2 radiofrequency electrodeless discharge) were compared with respect to preferential etching and damage to the ultrastructure of glutaraldehyde-fixed Epon-embedded frog skeletal muscle sections. SEM and TEM studies were performed on both unstained and stained (osmium tetroxide, uranyl acetate) sections. Etching effects were observed to differ for the various ion beam or plasma etching techniques. Whereas selective retention of electron dense structures (e.g. Z lines, nuclear heterochromatin) was observed for oxygen plasma etching, preferential etching of these components was observed using O2+ ion beam bombardment. Selectively etched Z lines and etch-resistant nucleoli were observed for both reactive (O2+) and inert (Ar+) ion beam sputtering after sufficiently high ion doses. The above suggest that selective etching under keV ion beam irradiation is related more to physical sputtering processes (momentum transfer) than to the chemical reactivity of the incident ion. Heavy metal post-fixation and staining had no qualitative effect on the nature of the selective etching phenomena. The above findings are significant in that they potentially influence both electron and ion microprobe measurements of etched biological specimens.
Linton, RW; Farmer, ME; Ingram, P; Sommer, JR; Shelburne, JD
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