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Scattering Print

When a crystalline sample is illuminated with x-rays, the x-rays are scattered (diffracted) into very specific directions with various intensities. Detectors are used to measure this "diffraction pattern," which is then processed by computers to deduce the arrangement of atoms within the crystal.

Hard x-rays have wavelengths comparable to the distance between atoms. Essentially everything we know about the atomic structure of materials is based on results from x-ray and neutron diffraction. From advanced ceramics to catalysts, from semiconductor technology to the frontiers of medicine, and from new magnetic materials and devices to framework compounds used to sequester radioactive waste, crystallography using hard x-ray diffraction techniques at synchrotron radiation facilities plays a crucial role in our ability to understand and control the world in which we live.

The scattering of x-rays from protein crystals is the most powerful method of determining the three-dimensional structure of large biological molecules (macromolecules). Because macromolecules are large and flexible, their crystals tend to be small, imperfect, and weakly diffracting. In many cases, the intensity, small beam size, and collimation of a synchrotron beam is vital for successful results.

Soft x-ray scattering techniques employ the excitation of electrons in relatively shallow core energy levels (100–2000 eV) to probe the electronic structure and other properties of various kinds of matter. The sample is illuminated with monochromatic soft x-rays, and the scattered photons are detected over a small angular range. In the elastic scattering mode, one measures the speckle diffraction pattern. In the inelastic mode, the scattered photons are passed through a spectrometer and analyzed.

Selected Scattering Highlights

3D Charge Order Found in Superconductor

Exploring the Repeat-Protein Universe

Porous Framework Electrocatalysts Are Key to Carbon Dioxide Conversion

Watching a Liquid-Crystal Helix Unwind

A Fullerene that Breaks the Rules

In Situ Printing of Plastic Solar Cells

Skyrmion Behavior Revealed by Two X-Ray Studies

Evidence for a Weak Iron Core at Earth's Center

High-Pressure MOF Research Yields Structural Insights

The Molecular Ingenuity of a Unique Fish Scale

New Research on Jamming Behavior Expands Understanding

Learning from Roman Concrete

Shedding Light on Nanocrystal Defects

The Importance of Domain Size and Purity in High-Efficiency Organic Solar Cells

Guided Self-Assembly of Gold Thin Films

Central Activator Keeps the Circadian Clock Ticking

Polarized X-Rays Reveal Molecular Alignment in Printed Electronics

Borrowing from Nature to Produce Highly Structured Biomimetic Materials

Hidden Rotational Symmetries in Magnetic Domain Patterns

Resonant Soft X-Ray Scattering of Tri-Block Copolymers

Lensless Imaging of Magnetic Nanostructures

Signal Recognition Particle-Receptor Complex Structure Solved

Structure of DNA-bound FEN1 Reveals Mechanism of Action

Dynein Motor Domain Shows Ring-Shaped Motor, Buttress

Lensless X-Ray Imaging in Reflection

Mineral Deformation at Earth's Core–Mantle Boundary

Inhibiting Individual Notch Receptors Improves Treatment

Two Novel Ultra-Incompressible Materials

Cool Magnetic Molecules

A New Light on Disordered Ensembles

Heterogeneous Morphology Found in Organic Solar Cells

Giant Protease TPP II’s Structure, Mechanism Uncovered

Topoisomerase II Structure Suggests Novel DNA Cleavage Mechanism

The Surprising Appearance of Nanotubular Fullerene D5h(1)-C90

Structure of All-Polymer Solar Cells Impedes Efficiency

Mechanical Behavior of Indium Nanostructures

Lensless Imaging of Whole Biological Cells with Soft X-Rays

A New Route to Nano Self-Assembly

Rotary Firing in Ring-Shaped Protein Explains Unidirectionality

Structures of the Ribosome in Intermediate States of Ratcheting

Proton Channel Orientation in Block-Copolymer Electrolyte Membranes

Hybrid Rotaxanes: Interlocked Structures for Quantum Computing?

P-Glycoprotein Structure and Chemotherapy Resistance

Molecular-Frame Angular Distributions of Resonant Auger Electrons

Self-Assembly of Polymer Nano-Elements on Sapphire

Enzyme Structure Provides Insights into Cancer and Aging