Single-particle cryo-EM—How did it get here and where will it go

Yifan Cheng

Cryo–electron microscopy, or simply cryo-EM, refers mainly to three very different yet closely related techniques: electron crystallography, single-particle cryo-EM, and electron cryotomography. In the past few years, single-particle cryo-EM in particular has triggered a revolution in structural biology and has become a newly dominant discipline. This Review examines the fascinating story of its start and evolution over the past 40-plus years, delves into how and why the recent technological advances have been so groundbreaking, and briefly considers where the technique may be headed in the future.

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