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We recently published “Goniometer-based femtosecond crystallography with X-ray free electron lasers” in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The extremely short and bright X-ray pulses produced by X-ray free-electron lasers unlock new opportunities in crystallography-based structural biology research. Efficient methods to deliver crystalline material are necessary due to damage or destruction of the crystal by the X-ray pulse. Crystals for the first experiments were 5 µm or smaller in size, delivered by a liquid injector. We describe a highly automated goniometer-based approach, compatible with crystals of larger and varied sizes, and accessible at cryogenic or ambient temperatures. These methods, coupled with improvements in data-processing algorithms, have resulted in high-resolution structures, unadulterated by the effects of radiation exposure, from only 100 to 1,000 diffraction images.