Researchers have constructed an optical funnel that can direct a stream of proteins, virus particles or other Nanoparticles precisely to the analysis in the fine beam of an X-ray laser. The funnel is made up of a specially modified beam that catches particles in its Center. In contrast to ordinary such optical traps, the funnel uses thermal effects to control the particles. The team led by Andrei rode by the Australian National University in Canberra, include also researchers from the Hamburg Center for free electron Laser Science CFEL and the Center for ultrafast Imaging CUI at DESY, presents his concept in the journal “Physical Review Applied”. The researchers tested their optical funnel with the help of graphite and blackened glass micro-spheres.
With the help of x-rays, researchers analyze the spatial structure of biomolecules to learn about how it works. This promotes not only the better understanding of fundamental biological processes, but opens up new ways for the development of tailor-made medicines. For the analysis, usually small crystals of the bio-molecules are bred and irradiated with X-rays.
This gives rise to a characteristic diffraction pattern from the spatial structure of the studied molecule can be calculated. “As organic molecules are often very difficult to crystallize, we work also on paths, to directly analyze individual molecules with the extremely intensive light of X-ray free electron lasers”, explains co-author Jochen Küpper from DESY, who heads the group for controlled molecule imaging on the CFEL.
In both cases, thousands of diffraction images are needed to calculate the molecular structure. Because each Crystal or any single molecule