New Opportunities in Synchrotron X-ray Crystallography

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Science  16 Oct 1987:
Vol. 238, Issue 4825, pp. 312-319
DOI: 10.1126/science.238.4825.312


Several high-intensity synchrotron x-ray sources have been constructed over the past few years in the United States, West Germany, Great Britain, Japan, France, Italy, and the Soviet Union. Crystallographers have begun to use these facilities for experiments that take advantage of the characteristics of synchrotron radiation, namely, a broad distribution of wavelengths, high intensity, low divergence, strong polarization, and a pulsed time structure. In addition to more familiar diffraction experiments on single crystals and powdered samples, new types of crystallographic studies, for example, energy-dispersive and surface diffraction studies, have progressed rapidly with more general accessibility of synchrotron sources. These high-intensity sources allow diffraction experiments to be performed on very small crystals or on large biological molecules, and permit weak magnetic scattering to be detected Anomalous dispersion experiments can exploit he ability to vary the wavelength of the radiation, and the pulsed time structure of the beam makes possible fast time-resolved experiments. Because of the availability of synchrotron x-radiation, these and other kinds of experiments will be in the forefront of crystallographic research for the next several years.