If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.


Analytical Chemistry

Nanocrystal Imaging Via X-ray Lasers

Ultrashort light bursts predicted to outpace lattice damage

by Mitch Jacoby
December 20, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 51

The ultrashort and intense light bursts generated by X-ray lasers can outpace the crystal damage they cause, thereby enabling these newly developed light sources to provide atomic structure data for a host of materials that are currently inaccessible to benchtop and synchrotron-based X-ray-analysis methods (ACS Nano,10.1021/nn1020693). That’s the conclusion of Nicusor Timneanu of Uppsala University and coworkers in Germany and Sweden, who used theoretical methods to analyze the extent of X-ray-induced lattice damage caused by Auger electron and photoelectron emission and other ionizing processes in a model system—nanocrystalline urea. The timescale on which radiation damage occurs, together with other factors, including X-ray intensity, pulse duration, and crystal size, dictates whether a sample’s atomic structure can be deduced via X-ray methods. Some proteins, for example, form submicrometer-sized crystals, which are too small for conventional X-ray analysis. The theoretical study, which addresses these factors and others, concludes that newly available X-ray lasers, such as the one at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, in Menlo Park, Calif., and ones being built in Europe and Japan, will enable atomic-scale imaging of nanoscale clusters and particles and may eventually enable imaging of single biomolecules.


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.