Frequently Asked Questions

We've supported over 2000 unique projects for more than 200 Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology clients globally. To help get you started in cryoEM with NIS, we've compiled helpful answers to our most commonly asked questions below. Please contact us for any additional information.

How much sample should I submit?

Please provide 50-100uL of sample and a few mL of buffer in which the sample may be diluted in case it is too concentrated for imaging. Although as little as 3uL of sample is necessary to prepare a single EM grid, multiple grids are typically prepared. In addition, several conditions may have to be tested to optimize the specimen for imaging.

How should I label my samples?

Properly label sample tube(s) and include relevant information such as concentration, buffer, storage requirements etc. Please indicate whether the samples are hazardous and, if so, provide safety and handling precautions.

How should I ship my samples?

Pack samples at the appropriate temperature (room temperature, wet ice, dry ice) with adequate padding to ensure that they will not be damaged during transit. Use a courier service for shipment and delivery. For most samples, overnight delivery is recommended whenever available.


NanoImaging Services accepts sample delivery from 8:30am – 5pm, Monday – Friday.
Samples are not received on Saturdays, Sundays, or Holidays.


Please contact us if you need assistance with documentation required for shipping samples from overseas. NIS will provide an End-User Letter on company letterhead and a Power of Attorney statement prior to shipping. We currently have Power of Attorney statements on file with both World Courier and Marken. All other information regarding the samples needs to be provided by the shipper to the courier.

Please notify us by email when the samples are shipped and include the shipment tracking numbers.

What shipping address should I use?

We are in the process of opening a new location in Woburn, MA. Please confirm with your primary point of contact at NIS to which location you should forward your samples. Unless otherwise instructed, please direct your shipment to our San Diego Headquarters:


NanoImaging Services
Attn: Sample Receiving
4940 Carroll Canyon Road, Suite 115
San Diego, CA 92121

(888) 675-8261

How is my data stored?

Data is analyzed and stored in a secure database that tracks samples from the moment of arrival at NanoImaging Services, Inc. through every stage of preparation, imaging, and analysis.  All images and associated metadata are stored and tracked using this database allowing for long term secure retention of data. The images and data are made available to the customer on our secure web portal. The web-based image portal facilitates communication and collaboration between groups working on the same project from various localities.

What reporting can I expect?

A written final report of the study summarizes the imaging and analysis efforts. Representative images are provided as attachments to support key observations and conclusions. The report and entire set of all image files and analysis data produced in the study are available for viewing online using our secure web portal or can be transferred to the client via the portal or on a USB drive. The report includes documentation of sample receipt and handling and details on any analysis or reconstruction.

Is there support for interpreting my data?

Each study is followed by a teleconference call during which we discuss the study’s major findings and give tips on getting the most out of your data. This call is attended by the scientists responsible for conducting your study to ensure that any questions you might have are properly answered.

Service selection - Do I need TEM or cryoTEM?

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What buffers can I use for my samples?

A minimal buffer is preferred (i.e. 20 mM HEPES, pH 7.5) to minimize background. If specific components are known to be necessary for sample stability, these should be present in the minimum amount possible. High concentrations of glycerol and/or sucrose should be avoided. Detergents can be used but should be kept below their CMC, unless they are used to solubilize the sample. For negative stain specimens, phosphate buffers should be avoided. 

What sample concentration should I prepare?

For negative stain of protein samples, 0.01-0.5 mg/mL is acceptable. For SPA workflows, 1-5 mg/mL is preferred. In both cases, a sample at the highest possible concentration is preferred since serial dilutions are performed to optimize the grids. 

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