Introduction: Principles of Electron Tomography

  • Joachim Frank


Tomography is a method for reconstructing the interior of an object from its projections. The word tomography literally means the visualization of slices, and is applicable, in the strict sense of the word, only in the narrow context of the single-axis tilt geometry: for instance, in medical computerized axial tomography (CAT-scan imaging), the detector-source arrangement is tilted relative to the patient around a single axis (Fig. 1a). In electron microscopy, where the beam direction is fixed, the specimen holder is tilted around a single axis (Fig. 1b). However, the usage of this term has recently become more liberal, encompassing arbitrary geometries, provided that the specimen is actively tilted into multiple angles. In line with this relaxed convention, we will use the term electron tomography for any technique that employs the transmission electron microscope to collect projections of an object that is tilted in multiple directions and uses these projections to reconstruct the object in its entirety. Excluded from this definition are ‘single-particle’ techniques that make use of multiple occurrences of the object in different orientations, with or without the additional aid of symmetry (Fig. 1c). These techniques are covered elsewhere (non-symmetric: Frank, 1996, 2006; symmetric: Glaeser et al., 2007).


Fourier Space Single Axis Word Tomography Macromolecular Assembly Projection Theorem 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joachim Frank
    • 1
  1. 1.Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Health Research, Inc. at the Wadsworth Center, Department of Biomedical SciencesState University of New York at AlbanyAlbanyUSA

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