Short Communication—A Novel Sample Preparation Method That Enables Ultrathin Sectioning of Urea-Formaldehyde Resin for Imaging by Transmission Electron Microscopy


Urea-formaldehyde (UF) resin is widely used as an adhesive for the manufacture of a range of wood and fiber based products. Although the microstructure of this resin has been examined at high resolution by field-emission scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) has thus far not been used, perhaps because of difficulties in ultrathin sectioning this resin in cured (polymerized) state. In the technical note presented here, a novel sample preparation method is described which enabled us to examine the microstructural morphology of UF resin by transmission electron microscopy in ultrathin sections, revealing the presence of spherical particles within the resin. Our initial attempt to ultrathin section the resin directly was not successful as it was too brittle to trim blocks for sectioning. Then, we developed a sample preparation technique that involved impregnation ofPinus radiatawood tissues with the UF resin, and then embedding of resin impregnated wood tissues with Spurr’s low viscosity embedding medium, which has been widely employed in plant and wood ultrastructure work. The TEM images illustrated and the information on the microstructural morphology of the UF resin presented are based on this novel sample preparation approach.



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