Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > New research paves the way for nano-movies of biomolecules: Scientists use X-ray laser as ultra slow-motion camera

Samples of the crystallized protein (right), called photoactive yellow protein or PYP, were jetted into the path of SLAC's LCLS X-ray laser beam (fiery beam from bottom left). The crystallized proteins had been exposed to blue light (coming from left) to trigger shape changes. Diffraction patterns created when the X-ray laser hit the crystals allowed scientists to recreate the 3-D structure of the protein (center) and determine how light exposure changes its shape. Credit: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
Samples of the crystallized protein (right), called photoactive yellow protein or PYP, were jetted into the path of SLAC's LCLS X-ray laser beam (fiery beam from bottom left). The crystallized proteins had been exposed to blue light (coming from left) to trigger shape changes. Diffraction patterns created when the X-ray laser hit the crystals allowed scientists to recreate the 3-D structure of the protein (center) and determine how light exposure changes its shape.

Credit: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Abstract:
An international team, including scientists from DESY, has caught a light sensitive biomolecule at work with an X-ray laser. The study proves that X-ray lasers can capture the fast dynamics of biomolecules in ultra slow-motion, as the scientists led by Prof. Marius Schmidt from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee write in the journal Science. "Our study paves the way for movies from the nano world with atomic spatial resolution and ultrafast temporal resolution", says Schmidt.

New research paves the way for nano-movies of biomolecules: Scientists use X-ray laser as ultra slow-motion camera

Hamburg, Germany | Posted on December 4th, 2014

The researchers used the photoactive yellow protein (PYP) as a model system. PYP is a receptor for blue light that is part of the photosynthetic machinery in certain bacteria. When it catches a blue photon, it cycles through various intermediate structures as it harvests the energy of the photon, before it returns to its initial state. Most steps of this PYP photocycle have been well studied, making it an excellent candidate for validating a new method.

For their ultra-fast snapshots of the PYP dynamics, the scientists first produced tiny crystals of PYP molecules, most measuring less than 0.01 millimetres across. These microcrystals were sprayed into the focus of the world's most powerful X-ray laser, LCLS at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in the US, as their photocycle was kicked off with a meticulously synchronised blue laser pulse. Thanks to the incredibly short and intense X-ray flashes of the LCLS, the researchers could watch how PYP changes its shape at different time steps in the photocycle, by taking snapshot X-ray diffraction patterns.

With a resolution of 0.16 nanometres, these are the most detailed images of a biomolecule ever made with an X-ray laser. A nanometre is a millionth of a millimetre. The diameter of the smallest atom, hydrogen, is about 0.1 nanometres.

Beyond reproducing known aspects of the PYP photocycle, thereby validating the new method, this investigation revealed much finer details. Also, thanks to the high temporal resolution, the X-ray laser could, in principle, study steps in the cycle that are shorter than 1 picosecond (a picosecond is a trillionth of a second) - too fast to be caught with previous techniques. The ultrafast snapshots can be assembled into a movie, showing the dynamics in ultra slow-motion.

"This is a real breakthrough", emphasises co-author Prof. Henry Chapman from the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science at DESY, who is also a member of the Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging. "Our study is opening the door for time resolved studies of dynamic processes with atomic resolution."

Compared to other methods, X-ray lasers, like the LCLS or the European XFEL that is currently being built from the DESY campus in Hamburg to the neighbouring town of Schenefeld, offer several advantages for the investigation of ultrafast dynamics of molecules. They produce the most brilliant X-ray flashes on earth, offering femtosecond time resolution. A femtosecond is a quadrillionth of a second. While 40 femtosecond X-ray flashes were used for this experiment, the pulse duration can be made even shorter down to just a few femtoseconds.

"You need a short pulse to resolve the steps of these fast processes", underlines co-author Dr. Anton Barty, also from DESY. "The short flashes also overcome the problem of damaging the often delicate samples with the intense X-rays." Although the powerful pulses usually vaporise the sample, they are so short that they produce a high-quality diffraction signal on the detector before the sample disintegrates. This principle, called diffraction before destruction, was proven a few years ago by an international collaboration led by DESY.

X-ray lasers use a fresh sample for every shot, which also avoids radiation damage that can accumulate in the samples in other types of investigations. And X-ray lasers typically investigate very small crystals that often are much easier to fabricate than larger crystals. In fact, some biomolecules are so hard to crystallise that they can only be investigated with an X-ray laser. The small crystal size is also an advantage when it comes to kick-starting molecular dynamics uniformly across the sample. In larger samples, the initiating optical laser pulse is often quickly absorbed in the sample, which excites only a thin layer and leaves the bulk of the crystal unaffected. The PYP microcrystal dimensions were perfectly matched to the optical absorption so that all molecules in the crystal were undergoing the same dynamics, which in turn allowed sensitive measurements of the molecular changes by snapshot X-ray diffraction.

Taken together, X-ray laser investigations can offer previously inaccessible new insights into the dynamics of the molecular world, complementing other methods. Using the ultra slow-motion, the scientists next plan to elucidate the fast steps of the PYP photocycle that are too short to be seen with previous methods.

###

The team included researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Arizona State University, SLAC National Accelerator Center, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, DESY, University of New York Buffalo, University of Chicago and Imperial College London.

####

About Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY
Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY is the leading German accelerator centre and one of the leading in the world. DESY is a member of the Helmholtz Association and receives its funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) (90 per cent) and the German federal states of Hamburg and Brandenburg (10 per cent). At its locations in Hamburg and Zeuthen near Berlin, DESY develops, builds and operates large particle accelerators, and uses them to investigate the structure of matter. DESY's combination of photon science and particle physics is unique in Europe.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Thomas Zoufal

49-408-998-1666

Copyright © Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Reference

Related News Press

Imaging

Limitation exposed in promising quantum computing material: Metallic surfaces no longer protected as topological insulators become thinner July 19th, 2019

News and information

Resistance is utile: Magnetite nanowires with sharp insulating transition: Osaka University-led researchers make ultra-thin nanowires of Fe3O4, with a remarkable 'Verwey transition' from metal to insulator at low temperature -- a highly sought-after property for nanoelectronics July 19th, 2019

Tiny vibration-powered robots are the size of the world's smallest ant July 19th, 2019

A graphene superconductor that plays more than one tune: Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a tiny toolkit for scientists to study exotic quantum physics July 19th, 2019

Electronic chip mimics the brain to make memories in a flash: Engineers have mimicked the human brain with an electronic chip that uses light to create and modify memories. July 19th, 2019

The interlayers help perovskite crystallisation for high-performance light-emitting diodes: Unveiling the synergistic effect of precursor stoichiometry and interfacial reactions for perovskite light-emitting diodes July 19th, 2019

Laboratories

A graphene superconductor that plays more than one tune: Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a tiny toolkit for scientists to study exotic quantum physics July 19th, 2019

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Limitation exposed in promising quantum computing material: Metallic surfaces no longer protected as topological insulators become thinner July 19th, 2019

Tiny vibration-powered robots are the size of the world's smallest ant July 19th, 2019

A graphene superconductor that plays more than one tune: Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a tiny toolkit for scientists to study exotic quantum physics July 19th, 2019

The interlayers help perovskite crystallisation for high-performance light-emitting diodes: Unveiling the synergistic effect of precursor stoichiometry and interfacial reactions for perovskite light-emitting diodes July 19th, 2019

Nanomedicine

An 'EpiPen' for spinal cord injuries July 12th, 2019

Nanotechnology delivers hepatitis B vaccine: X-ray imaging shows that nanostructured silica acts as a protective vehicle to deliver intact antigen to the intestine so that it can trigger an immune response. The material can give rise to a polyvaccine against six diseases July 12th, 2019

Sheaths drive powerful new artificial muscles July 11th, 2019

Nanotechnology pioneer Chad Mirkin wins Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience and Nanomedicine: Molly Stevens of Imperial College London receives Kabiller Young Investigator Award July 11th, 2019

Discoveries

Resistance is utile: Magnetite nanowires with sharp insulating transition: Osaka University-led researchers make ultra-thin nanowires of Fe3O4, with a remarkable 'Verwey transition' from metal to insulator at low temperature -- a highly sought-after property for nanoelectronics July 19th, 2019

Tiny vibration-powered robots are the size of the world's smallest ant July 19th, 2019

A graphene superconductor that plays more than one tune: Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a tiny toolkit for scientists to study exotic quantum physics July 19th, 2019

Electronic chip mimics the brain to make memories in a flash: Engineers have mimicked the human brain with an electronic chip that uses light to create and modify memories. July 19th, 2019

Announcements

Resistance is utile: Magnetite nanowires with sharp insulating transition: Osaka University-led researchers make ultra-thin nanowires of Fe3O4, with a remarkable 'Verwey transition' from metal to insulator at low temperature -- a highly sought-after property for nanoelectronics July 19th, 2019

Tiny vibration-powered robots are the size of the world's smallest ant July 19th, 2019

A graphene superconductor that plays more than one tune: Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a tiny toolkit for scientists to study exotic quantum physics July 19th, 2019

Electronic chip mimics the brain to make memories in a flash: Engineers have mimicked the human brain with an electronic chip that uses light to create and modify memories. July 19th, 2019

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Resistance is utile: Magnetite nanowires with sharp insulating transition: Osaka University-led researchers make ultra-thin nanowires of Fe3O4, with a remarkable 'Verwey transition' from metal to insulator at low temperature -- a highly sought-after property for nanoelectronics July 19th, 2019

Tiny vibration-powered robots are the size of the world's smallest ant July 19th, 2019

A graphene superconductor that plays more than one tune: Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a tiny toolkit for scientists to study exotic quantum physics July 19th, 2019

Electronic chip mimics the brain to make memories in a flash: Engineers have mimicked the human brain with an electronic chip that uses light to create and modify memories. July 19th, 2019

Tools

Limitation exposed in promising quantum computing material: Metallic surfaces no longer protected as topological insulators become thinner July 19th, 2019

Nanometrics to Announce Second Quarter Financial Results on July 30, 2019 July 17th, 2019

Caught in the act: Images capture molecular motions in real time July 15th, 2019

Nanotechnology delivers hepatitis B vaccine: X-ray imaging shows that nanostructured silica acts as a protective vehicle to deliver intact antigen to the intestine so that it can trigger an immune response. The material can give rise to a polyvaccine against six diseases July 12th, 2019

Nanobiotechnology

An 'EpiPen' for spinal cord injuries July 12th, 2019

Nanotechnology delivers hepatitis B vaccine: X-ray imaging shows that nanostructured silica acts as a protective vehicle to deliver intact antigen to the intestine so that it can trigger an immune response. The material can give rise to a polyvaccine against six diseases July 12th, 2019

Nanotechnology pioneer Chad Mirkin wins Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience and Nanomedicine: Molly Stevens of Imperial College London receives Kabiller Young Investigator Award July 11th, 2019

Imprinted spheres fight breast cancer: Inhibition of HER2 on tumor cells by molecularly imprinted nanoparticles July 9th, 2019

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Electronic chip mimics the brain to make memories in a flash: Engineers have mimicked the human brain with an electronic chip that uses light to create and modify memories. July 19th, 2019

What happens when you explode a chemical bond? Attosecond laser technique yields movies of chemical bond dissociation July 12th, 2019

Strange warping geometry helps to push scientific boundaries July 12th, 2019

A new way of making complex structures in thin films: Self-assembling materials can form patterns that might be useful in optical devices July 5th, 2019

Research partnerships

A graphene superconductor that plays more than one tune: Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a tiny toolkit for scientists to study exotic quantum physics July 19th, 2019

The interlayers help perovskite crystallisation for high-performance light-emitting diodes: Unveiling the synergistic effect of precursor stoichiometry and interfacial reactions for perovskite light-emitting diodes July 19th, 2019

The best of both worlds: how to solve real problems on modern quantum computers July 12th, 2019

Sheaths drive powerful new artificial muscles July 11th, 2019

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project