Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have devised a way to eliminate the need for crystallization by using lasers to align large groups of molecules.
"Strong laser fields can be used to control the behavior of atoms and molecules," Argonne Distinguished Fellow Linda Young said. "Using x-rays, we can investigate their properties in a totally new way."
Crystallization allows scientists to create a periodic structure that will strongly diffract in specific directions when bombarded with x-rays. From the resulting diffraction pattern, a real-space image can be reconstructed. However, without crystallization, when x-rays collide with multiple, randomly oriented molecules, they diffract in different directions, making it impossible to create a composite diffraction image, Argonne Physicist Robin Santra said.
Some molecules, such as many involved with drug interaction, cannot be crystallized and imaging would require numerous samples to bombard in order to get a full composite picture. Young's laser technique allows for millions of molecules suspended in a gaseous state to be aligned so that when bombarded with x-rays, they all diffract in the same way. The resulting images are at atomic level resolution and do not require crystallization.
"Understanding the structure of the approximately 1 million human proteins that cannot be crystallized is perhaps the most important challenge facing structural biology," Young said. "A method for structure determination at atomic resolution without the need to crystallize would be revolutionary."
Young and her team have successfully aligned molecules using a laser, probed the aligned ensemble with x-rays and shown theoretically that the technique could be used for x-ray imaging (See E. R. Peterson et al., Applied Physics Letters 92, 094106 (2008)), but they require an proposed upgrade to the Advanced Photon Source facility located at Argonne before x-ray diffraction can be done experimentally.
Funding for this research was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences.
The mission of the Basic Energy Sciences (BES) program - a multipurpose, scientific research effort - is to foster and support fundamental research to expand the scientific foundations for new and improved energy technologies and for understanding and mitigating the environmental impacts of energy use. The portfolio supports work in the natural sciences, emphasizing fundamental research in materials sciences, chemistry, geosciences, and aspects of biosciences.
Argonne National Laboratory brings the world’s brightest scientists and engineers together to find exciting and creative new solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.
Brock Cooper | newswise
A better way to weigh millions of solitary stars
15.12.2017 | Vanderbilt University
A chip for environmental and health monitoring
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences