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Experiment reaches biology milestone with hard X-ray laser
Date:2/2/2011

ears to develop methods to grow the large, high-quality crystals of the photosystem I complex that allowed them to determine its molecular structure in 2001.

For the nanocrystallography experiment at the Linac Coherent Light Source, the research team used thousands of photosystem I nanocrystals instead. The significance of the experiment has the potential to revolutionize the field of protein crystallography and is reported in the Nature paper "Femtosecond X-ray protein nanocrystallography."

"These experiments have the potential to be one of the most stunning scientific developments of the year" said Robert Nemanich, chair of ASU's Department of Physics.

Little nozzle reaches target

Researcher Spence, with extensive experience in the physics of diffraction, led the ASU group that developed the protein beam injector, a tiny piece of equipment that fired a stream of protein solution to the pulsed hard X-ray beam at SLAC.

"The experimental run at the LCLS had exceeded all expectations," said R. Bruce Doak, an ASU physics professor who has more than 30 years experience in the science of supersonic atomic and molecular beams. During the December 2009 experiment, he wrote: "The ASU liquid jet is performing flawlessly. We put together a dual reservoir supply system that allows us to switch samples without ever turning off the flow, and so the nozzle has now been running continuously for over 50 hours.

"Early on, we established the sample concentration of microcystallite photosystem I that delivers an X-ray diffraction pattern with almost every X-ray pulse 30 diffraction images per second! No one here had ever seen anything like a 100% hit rat before, much less sustained for days; over 3 million stored diffraction images so far. The diffraction patterns are gorgeous," wrote Doak, also an author on the Nature nanocrystallography paper.

Students are part of international effort

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Contact: Carol Hughes
carol.hughes@asu.edu
480-965-6375
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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