The patent's inventors are
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From the background information supplied by the inventors, news correspondents obtained the following quote: "Transmission electron microscopes (TEM) use a TEM grid to support specimens during imaging in the electron microscope, much as glass slides are used in light microscopes. TEM grids, generally referred to only as 'grids,' are also occasionally used in other applications. Standard TEM grids are 3.05 mm diameter disks of fine-mesh screen-like material, and are very thin, typically 30 .mu.m to 100 .mu.m thick. Most commonly, grids are made from, but are not limited to, Cu, Ni, Au, or NiCr alloy, but may also be made from other metals or for some applications may be polymeric, ceramic (e.g. silicon), or of special materials such as pyrolytic carbon, or still other materials. Some of the special grid materials can be thicker, such as about 200 .mu.m thick for pyrolytic carbon.
"Due to the need for grids to be very thin and for the screen to be a very open mesh, since it is through the openings that specimens are imaged, TEM grids are extremely fragile and easily damaged. Due to their small size, grids are very easy to lose if dropped or misplaced. Also, due to their very small size, it is not generally possible to mark or label individual grids to identify the specimen attached to them. Therefore, the identification of a grid, and the specimen it holds, is dependant on it being in a properly labeled location or container. Proper identification is essential when grids contain specimens from clinical patients, such as biopsies, or important research materials. Preparation of a grid with a specimen can often take several days of labor; hence loss or misidentification is very expensive in terms of time and effort.
"Numerous types of storage containers are used to store grids. There are similarly also many devices used to treat the specimens on the grids. Both the storage devices and many of the processing devices, especially those that are intended to hold more than one grid at a time, provide indexed positions for individual grids. A device having multiple indexed locations to place grids for storage is called a grid box. Processing of grids commonly includes chemical stains or molecular labels to enable detection and localization of specific biological, structural, or chemical features. For biological specimens, especially, many solutions of stains and other chemicals are applied to the grid in liquids such as, but not limited to, water. Alternatively, in some processes, typically for non-biologic specimens, the stain or treatment may be applied as a vapor. In still others, the treatment, such as with ionized materials, may occur in a partial vacuum.
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