Indexed on: 02 Oct '12Published on: 02 Oct '12Published in: Current Opinion in Structural Biology
The latest revolution in macromolecular crystallography was incited by the development of dedicated, user friendly, micro-crystallography beam lines. Brilliant X-ray beams of diameter 20 μm or less, now available at most synchrotron sources, enable structure determination from samples that previously were inaccessible. Relative to traditional crystallography, crystals with one or more small dimensions have diffraction patterns with vastly improved signal-to-noise when recorded with an appropriately matched beam size. Structures can be solved from isolated, well diffracting regions within inhomogeneous samples. This review summarizes the technological requirements and approaches to producing micro-beams and how they continue to change the practice of crystallography.