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Jet-propelled imaging for an ultrafast light source
Date:7/29/2009

the samples to radiation damage. Some of the patterns the researchers obtained come from nanocrystals just a few molecules on a side, with a width of about 100 billionths of a meter (100 nanometers). At SLAC, the researchers plan to steadily reduce the nanocrystal size down to single molecules.

The corresponding reduction in scattered intensity will hasten and improve lensless imaging. The first step in lensless imaging is scattering the beam from the sample; the second step is constructing the image by interpreting and combining the data from the diffracted x-rays.

In order to merge the different views (projections) of an object, which is subsequently vaporized in this "diffract-and-destroy" mode, it is important that they all be identical. In biology, that leaves only molecules like proteins and viruses. DNA or RNA inside a virus is often packed differently in each virus, and cells are not identical at the molecular level, so cannot be studied in 3-D by this method.

Besides identical particles, successful data-merging also depends partly on knowing how the sample was oriented in the beam easy to do with a large crystal, not so easy to do with a sample inside a drop of liquid whizzing across the beam. It may be possible to orient flying droplets by optical methods such as polarized laser beams or with specially shaped nozzles.

Perhaps simpler is to use the ever-increasing power of the computer which for a lensless imaging system is where most of the functions of a lens reside. Computer systems have been developed that infer the orientation of the sample from the diffraction pattern itself, even when as few as four percent of the pixels in the detector light up. It does take a lot of diffraction patterns to derive an image this way as many as 10 million which will take the LCLS a few hours until better ways of orienting the droplets can be advised.

Nevertheless, Spence's group recently obtained excellent diffrac
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Contact: Paul Preuss
paul_preuss@lbl.gov
510-486-6249
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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