Cryo-electron tomography (Cryo-ET) is a powerful imaging technique that allows to obtain the 3D structure of nanometric complexes from a set of 2D projections, in solution, at the native state. It has become a common technique in cell biology, but only rarely was applied to other fields.
In my thesis I developed a methodology, based on Cryo-ET, that is designed to address scientific questions in colloid science. With this tool, we can determine the morphology of soft nanostructured liquids, resolve their spatial organization, study processes and understand interactions in solutions, and perform quantitative analysis. Further, we can apply algorithms to our mapped volume-EM to extract additional indirect information from the microscopy data. Among examples, I will show the precise determination of the minimum size profile on nanoparticles, and the detailed organization soft matter networks (entangled and branched) for which the spatial organization has remained until now unresolved. In principle, this methodology can provide crucial data on solubilization, stabilization and self-assembly processes in solutions, which are essential for designing smart colloidal systems with desired properties.