The Integrated Structural Biology platform receives new sample preparation equipment for cryo-EM

Plateformes et services |

The Integrated Structural Biology plateform is the first European structure to have installed a Chameleon vitrification device. This sample preparation instrument of new generation for cryo-EM facilitates the study of unstable and fragile structures, providing a faster, more accurate procedure with better preservation of sample structure. The instrument was financed by FEDER Région Grand-Est, Eurométropole de Strasbourg, Inserm, Investissements d'Avenir (FRISBI ANR) and Labex INRT GIE.

Fast automated freezing without damaging the samples

The Chameleon optimizes the preparation of samples for observation through an electron microscope. This new vitrification method tackles the recurrent problems arising during the traditional “blot freezing” approach, such as preferential orientation or denaturation of the particles at the air-water interface. Suppressing the need of blotting the excess of sample also avoids damage to the structures due to friction, and helps to obtain more consistent ice thickness, required for high resolution imaging.

The method is fully automated and does not require manual intervention, which increases the consistency and quality of the samples. It is also possible to inspect resulting ice thickness during freezing to select only those of sufficient quality and thus improve throughput.

Reconstructing and observing unstable and fragile structures more easily

This technique facilitates to observe unstable or fragile structures, with applies to many macromolecular complexes studied at CBI/IGBMC and the national and European infrastructures FRISBI, Instruct-ERIC and iNEXT-Discovery. With its extremely fast vitrification method, in the order of a hundred milliseconds, the sample has more chance to be kept intact from the air-water interface. Only a small volume of sample is needed to start obtaining results.

Finally, the Chameleon helps to avoid preferred particle orientation during vitrification. This allows the specimen to form a wider variety of angular distribution and facilitates the high-resolution 3D reconstruction.

Description: technical information table on the Chameleon

How to get access to the Chameleon?

To access the Chameleon you can contact the Integrated Structural Biology platform directly by phone (+33 3 88 65 52 86) or by email ( or Once we have received your request or questions, we will be able to help you with your project and the use of this technique.