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Smashing Crystals

A powerful new X-ray–generating laser is imaging smaller crystals than ever before.

July 1, 2011

image: Smashing Crystals Infographic: Smashing Crystals
View full size JPG | PDF George Retseck

Making high-quality crystals large enough to usefully diffract X-rays is a major headache when attempting to determine protein structures by X-ray crystallography. Researchers prefer crystals that are 100–200 microns in size, with 5 microns being the smallest crystals that can be examined using a synchrotron X-ray source. More powerful X-rays provide better diffraction, but damage the crystals.

 

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