Many challenging protein complexes and medically important macromolecules yield only very small crystals. VMXm will have a beamsize of less than 0.5 μm and use novel X-ray optics and electron beam imaging methods to precisely align the tiniest protein crystals into the beam, in vacuo, and measure X-ray diffraction data from them.
The ability to tune the X-ray energy will allow additional information to be obtained from heavy atoms within the macromolecules, aiding structure determination by multicrystal SAD or MAD methods. In many ways VMXm will be a hybrid X-ray/ cryo-EM instrument making use of methods for sample preparation from cryo-electron-microscopy, imaging from scanning electron microscopy, and diffraction data collection methods from X-ray crystallography.
VMXm is currently under construction and is scheduled for first user operations in early 2018.
The VMXm team (l-r) Emma Beale, Anna Warren, Jose Trincao, and Gwyndaf Evans.
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