Wednesday, February 2, 2011

X-raying Life’s Microscopic Machinery - Science News

X-raying Life’s Microscopic Machinery - Science News: "Scientists already use X-rays to image proteins; by collecting the diffraction patterns made when an X-ray strikes a molecule, researchers can piece together its three-dimensional structure. But current techniques require hefty, pure molecules that must be laboriously isolated and crystallized before they can be looked at. Other methods, such as electron microscopy, require extensive prep work such as freezing the sample, and then researchers can look only at slices.
But the X-ray laser used in the new work is so much brighter and faster than its predecessors that researchers don’t need to grow their molecule of interest into a big, sturdy crystal. Eventually, researchers hope, the technique may reveal molecules interacting in their native habitat."

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