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When microstructures are characterized by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), the interpretation of results is facilitated if the material can be sectioned in defined orientations. In the case of fibres, it is especially useful if transverse and longitudinal sections can be obtained reliably. Here we describe a procedure for orienting spider silk and other flexible fibres for TEM investigation. Prior to embedding in epoxy resin, the silk is wound around a notched support made from polyester film. No glue is required. After the silk and its supporting film have been embedded and the resin has been cured the film can be peeled away to reveal nearly perfectly orientated silk threads. Both transverse and longitudinal sections can then be cut with a microtome. The method can be extended to obtain sections at any intermediate orientation.

Original publication




Journal article


J Microsc

Publication Date





235 - 238


Animals, Epoxy Resins, Insect Proteins, Microscopy, Electron, Microtomy, Plastic Embedding, Silk, Specimen Handling, Spiders