Recent advances in serial block-face imaging using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) have enabled the rapid and efficient acquisition of 3-dimensional (3D) ultrastructural information from a large volume of biological specimens including brain tissues. However, volume imaging under SEM is often hampered by sample charging, and typically requires specific sample preparation to reduce charging and increase image contrast. In the present study, we introduced carbon-based conductive resins for 3D analyses of subcellular ultrastructures, using serial block-face SEM (SBF-SEM) to image samples. Conductive resins were produced by adding the carbon black filler, Ketjen black, to resins commonly used for electron microscopic observations of biological specimens. Carbon black mostly localized around tissues and did not penetrate cells, whereas the conductive resins significantly reduced the charging of samples during SBF-SEM imaging. When serial images were acquired, embedding into the conductive resins improved the resolution of images by facilitating the successful cutting of samples in SBF-SEM. These results suggest that improving the conductivities of resins with a carbon black filler is a simple and useful option for reducing charging and enhancing the resolution of images obtained for volume imaging with SEM.
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