Scientists at Chiyoda Corporation and Confocal Science Incorporated have developed a new way to grow large protein crystals for neutron diffraction experiments. Neutron diffraction can provide information about the location of hydrogen atoms in protein molecules, but it requires larger crystals than for X-ray diffraction which can be challenging to produce.
The new method uses two pumps to control the concentration of chemicals in the solution and regulate the flow of dry air to the crystallisation cell. This allows the scientists to grow large, high-quality crystals while observing the process in real-time.
The method was tested using Macromolecular Crystallography on Diamond’s I04-1 beamline, to determine the results of large crystals grown from lysozyme and alpha-amylase proteins.
This method shows great promise in providing consistent pre-established conditions for large crystal growth.
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