Journal of Ultrastructure Research and Molecular Structure Research

STM of freeze-dried and PtIrC-coated bacteriophage T4 polyheads

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STM imaging was carried out on the outer surface of bacteriophage T4 type III polyheads, after freeze-drying and coating with a thin conducting film. By taking advantage of the high resolution power of the STM especially in the z-direction (i.e., perpendicular to the support), an apparent surface topography of only about 1 nm height was resolved. The average capsomere morphology was determined by correlation averaging. Because of the high signal-to-noise ratio of the tunneling data, only a few unit cells were needed to reveal a stable average. Both the topology as well as the absolute height of the polyheads have been reproduced in several experiments. The influence of the tip geometry on the STM topographs is discussed. © 1989.