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Correlations in Scattered X-Ray Laser Pulses Reveal Nanoscale Structural Features of Viruses


Paulraj,  L. X.
International Max Planck Research School for Ultrafast Imaging & Structural Dynamics (IMPRS-UFAST), Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Max Planck Society;
Center for Free-Electron Laser Science, Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY;

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Kurta, R. P., Donatelli, J. J., Yoon, C. H., Berntsen, P., Bielecki, J., Daurer, B. J., et al. (2017). Correlations in Scattered X-Ray Laser Pulses Reveal Nanoscale Structural Features of Viruses. Physical Review Letters, 119(15): 158102. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.158102.

We use extremely bright and ultrashort pulses from an x-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) to measure correlations in x rays scattered from individual bioparticles. This allows us to go beyond the traditional crystallography and single-particle imaging approaches for structure investigations. We employ angular correlations to recover the three-dimensional (3D) structure of nanoscale viruses from x-ray diffraction data measured at the Linac Coherent Light Source. Correlations provide us with a comprehensive structural fingerprint of a 3D virus, which we use both for model-based and ab initio structure recovery. The analyses reveal a clear indication that the structure of the viruses deviates from the expected perfect icosahedral symmetry. Our results anticipate exciting opportunities for XFEL studies of the structure and dynamics of nanoscale objects by means of angular correlations.