Understanding the invisible hands of sample preparation for cryo-EM
Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is rapidly becoming an attractive method in the field of structural biology. With the exploding popularity of cryo-EM, sample preparation must evolve to prevent congestion in the workflow. The dire need for improved microscopy samples has led to a diversification of methods. This Review aims to categorize and explain the principles behind various techniques in the preparation of vitrified samples for the electron microscope. Various aspects and challenges in the workflow are discussed, from sample optimization and carriers to deposition and vitrification. Reliable and versatile specimen preparation remains a challenge, and we hope to give guidelines and posit future directions for improvement.