My lab is currently working to improve two aspects of single-particle cryo-EM where there still remains a large gap between the current state-of-the-art and what is physically achievable. The first aspect is the way in which thin specimens are spread on EM grids, prior to rapid vitrification. We are developing a number of structure-friendly ways to immobilize particles onto affinity grids, in order to prevent their adsorption at the air-water interface. At the same time, we are developing new approaches to remove as much buffer as possible while avoiding that the air-water interface touches the now-immobilized particles. The second aspect is to use an intense, focused standing wave of light as a phase plate for the electron microscope, in order to provide in-focus image contrast that is much closer to the theoretical limit than what is currently possible.