Neutron Diffraction of Cell Membranes (Myelin)

Science  05 Sep 1969:
Vol. 165, Issue 3897, pp. 1016-1018
DOI: 10.1126/science.165.3897.1016


Small-angle neutron diffraction (wavelength 4.05 angstroms) of human and rabbit sciatic nerve has been carried out by means of the Brookhaven high flux beam reactor with an automated slit camera. Most of the free water of the nerves was substituted in order to minimize incoherent scatter of hydrogen atoms. The differences in amplitude and phase shifts between neutrons and x-rays resulted in a neutron diffraction pattern that was completely different from the x-ray pattern. The neutron pattern consisted of a single peak of about 89-angstrom spacing in the region examined (up to 6-angstrom spacing). The strong third, fourth, and fifth order reflections (about 60, 45, and 36 angstroms) seen in the x-ray pattern were suppressed. The neutron data indicated a strong scattering from one portion of the membrane.

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