X-raying life’s microscopic machinery

New laser technique promises to make the subcellular visible

By Rachel Ehrenberg, 17:34 PM February 2, 2011

An X-ray laser so bright and fast that it puts a paparazzi zoom lens to shame has allowed researchers to snap pictures of celebrity molecules that typically avoid scientists’ prying eyes. The method should prove widely useful for investigating the structure and activity of drugs, molecules for fuels and other materials.

Scientists have now used the new technique, 10 years in the making, to image an important photosynthesis protein and a virus. And the method should eventually allow researcher...

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