X-ray laser microscopy of rat sperm nuclei

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Science  09 Oct 1992:
Vol. 258, Issue 5080, pp. 269-271
DOI: 10.1126/science.1411525


The development of high brightness and short pulse width (< 200picoseconds) x-ray lasers now offers biologists the possibility ofhigh-resolution imaging of specimens in an aqueous environment withoutthe blurring effects associated with natural motions and chemicalerosion. As a step toward developing the capabilities of this type ofx-ray microscopy, a tantalum x-ray laser at 44.83 angstrom wavelengthwas used together with an x-ray zone plate lens to image bothunlabeled and selectively gold-labeled dried rat sperm nuclei. Theobserved images show approximately 500 angstrom features, illustratethe importance of x-ray microscopy in determining chemicalcomposition, and provide information about the uniformity of spermchromatin organization and the extent of sperm chromatinhydration.