Multi-beam electron microscopy leads to new insights into brain function

Two recent papers (June 2021) by groups in the USA have shown how a multi-beam electron microscope such as the MultiSEM from Zeiss, when combined with the automated ultramicrotome preparation of serial sections and powerful image segmentation algorithms can provide unprecedented data about how neurons in the brain connect to provide function – examples of the research area known as ‚connectomics‘.


A Browsable PetascaleReconstruction of the Human Cortex  by A Shapson-Coe et al. (J W Lichtman group at Harvard University), with this associated blog entry from Google


Double cones and the diverse connectivityof photoreceptors and bipolar cells in an avian retina, A Gunther et al. Journal of Neuroscience, 2021.

Image source: A connectomic study of a petascale fragment of human cerebral cortex. Preprint available at bioRxiv:

3rd NanoWorldMaps Annual Meeting

On 27th October 2021, members of the NanoWorldMaps consortium from half a dozen European countries held their 3rd annual meeting (on-line). After hearing about recent progress in large area nanoscale correlative microscopy applied to 3D images of tissue samples, the focus of the meeting was on detailing the consortium’s vision for a new European Research Infrastructure. Delegates were also pleased to learn that the NanoWorldMaps concept is now mentioned in the Italian research infrastructure roadmap.

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