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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

Single mimivirus particles intercepted and imaged with an X-ray laser

Seibert, M. Marvin; Ekeberg, Tomas; Maia, Filipe R. N. C.; Svenda, Martin; Andreasson, Jakob; Joensson, Olof; Odic, Dusko; Iwan, Bianca; Rocker, Andrea; Westphal, Daniel; Hantke, Max; DePonte, Daniel P.; Barty, Anton; Schulz, Joachim; Gumprecht, Lars; Coppola, Nicola; Aquila, Andrew; Liang, Mengning; White, Thomas A.; Martin, Andrew;
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X-ray lasers offer new capabilities in understanding the structure of biological systems, complex materials and matter under extreme conditions(1-4). Very short and extremely bright, coherent X-ray pulses can be used to outrun key damage processes and obtain a single diffraction pattern from a large macromolecule, a virus or a cell before the sample explodes and turns into plasma(1). The continuous diffraction pattern of non-crystalline objects permits oversampling and direct phase retrieval(2). Here we show that high-quality diffraction data can be obtained with a single X-ray pulse from a noncrystalline biological sample, a single mimivirus particle, which was injected into the pulsed beam of a hard-X-ray free-electron laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source(5). Calculations indicate that the energy deposited into the virus by the pulse heated the particle to over 100,000 K after the pulse had left the sample. The reconstructed exit wavefront (image) yielded 32-nm full-period resolution in a single exposure and showed no measurable damage. The reconstruction indicates inhomogeneous arrangement of dense material inside the virion. We expect that significantly higher resolutions will be achieved in such experiments with shorter and brighter photon pulses focused to a smaller area. The resolution in such experiments can be further extended for samples available in multiple identical copies.

Published in

2011, volume: 470, number: 7332, pages: 78-81
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group

Authors' information

Seibert, M. Marvin
Uppsala University
Ekeberg, Tomas
Uppsala University
Maia, Filipe R. N. C.
Uppsala University
Svenda, Martin
Uppsala University
Andreasson, Jakob
Jönsson, Olof
Uppsala University
Odić, Duško
Uppsala University
Iwan, Bianca
Uppsala University
Rocker, Andrea
Uppsala University
Westphal, Daniel
Uppsala University
Hantke, Max
Uppsala University
DePonte, Daniel P.
Barty, Anton
Schulz, Joachim
Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY)
Gumprecht, Lars
Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY)
Coppola, Nicola
Aquila, Andrew
Liang, Mengning
Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY)
White, Thomas A.
Martin, Andrew V.
Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY)
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UKÄ Subject classification

Atom and Molecular Physics and Optics
Cell and Molecular Biology

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