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Emerging opportunities in structural biology with X-ray free-electron lasers

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Schlichting,  Ilme
Department of Biomolecular Mechanisms, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;

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Schlichting, I., & Miao, J. (2012). Emerging opportunities in structural biology with X-ray free-electron lasers. Current Opinion in Structural Biology, 22(5), 613-626. doi:10.1016/j.sbi.2012.07.015.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0024-1F38-B
Abstract
X−ray free−electron lasers (X−FELs) produce X−ray pulses with extremely brilliant peak intensity and ultrashort pulse duration. It has been proposed that radiation damage can be ‘outrun' by using an ultra intense and short X−FEL pulse that passes a biological sample before the onset of significant radiation damage. The concept of ‘diffraction−before−destruction' has been demonstrated recently at the Linac Coherent Light Source, the first operational hard X−ray FEL, for protein nanocrystals and giant virus particles. The continuous diffraction patterns from single particles allow solving the classical ‘phase problem' by the oversampling method with iterative algorithms. If enough data are collected from many identical copies of a (biological) particle, its three−dimensional structure can be reconstructed. We review the current status and future prospects of serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) and single−particle coherent diffraction imaging (CDI) with X−FELs