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  1. Diffraction before destruction using X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) has the potential to determine radiation-damage-free structures without the need for crystallization. This article presents the three-dimensional reconstruction of the Melbournevirus from single-particle X-ray diffraction patterns collected at the LINAC Coherent Light Source (LCLS) as well as reconstructions from simulated data exploring the consequences of different kinds of experimental sources of noise. The reconstruction from experimental data suffers from a strong artifact in the center of the particle. This could be reproduced with simulated data by adding experimental background to the diffraction patterns. In those simulations, the relative density of the artifactmore » increases linearly with background strength. This suggests that the artifact originates from the Fourier transform of the relatively flat background, concentrating all power in a central feature of limited extent. We support these findings by significantly reducing the artifact through background removal before the phase-retrieval step. Large amounts of blurring in the diffraction patterns were also found to introduce diffuse artifacts, which could easily be mistaken as biologically relevant features. Other sources of noise such as sample heterogeneity and variation of pulse energy did not significantly degrade the quality of the reconstructions. Larger data volumes, made possible by the recent inauguration of high repetition-rate XFELs, allow for increased signal-to-background ratio and provide a way to minimize these artifacts. In conclusion, the anticipated development of three-dimensional Fourier-volume-assembly algorithms which are background aware is an alternative and complementary solution, which maximizes the use of data.« less
  2. This study explores the capabilities of the Coherent X-ray Imaging Instrument at the Linac Coherent Light Source to image small biological samples. The weak signal from small samples puts a significant demand on the experiment. AerosolizedOmono River virusparticles of ~40 nm in diameter were injected into the submicrometre X-ray focus at a reduced pressure. Diffraction patterns were recorded on two area detectors. The statistical nature of the measurements from many individual particles provided information about the intensity profile of the X-ray beam, phase variations in the wavefront and the size distribution of the injected particles. The results point to amore » wider than expected size distribution (from ~35 to ~300 nm in diameter). This is likely to be owing to nonvolatile contaminants from larger droplets during aerosolization and droplet evaporation. The results suggest that the concentration of nonvolatile contaminants and the ratio between the volumes of the initial droplet and the sample particles is critical in such studies. The maximum beam intensity in the focus was found to be 1.9 × 10 12photons per µm 2per pulse. The full-width of the focus at half-maximum was estimated to be 500 nm (assuming 20% beamline transmission), and this width is larger than expected. Under these conditions, the diffraction signal from a sample-sized particle remained above the average background to a resolution of 4.25 nm. Finally, the results suggest that reducing the size of the initial droplets during aerosolization is necessary to bring small particles into the scope of detailed structural studies with X-ray lasers.« less
  3. Single-particle diffraction from X-ray Free Electron Lasers offers the potential for molecular structure determination without the need for crystallization. In an effort to further develop the technique, we present a dataset of coherent soft X-ray diffraction images of Coliphage PR772 virus, collected at the Atomic Molecular Optics (AMO) beamline with pnCCD detectors in the LAMP instrument at the Linac Coherent Light Source. The diameter of PR772 ranges from 65–70 nm, which is considerably smaller than the previously reported ~600 nm diameter Mimivirus. This reflects continued progress in XFEL-based single-particle imaging towards the single molecular imaging regime. As a result, themore » data set contains significantly more single particle hits than collected in previous experiments, enabling the development of improved statistical analysis, reconstruction algorithms, and quantitative metrics to determine resolution and self-consistency.« less
  4. Single particle diffractive imaging data from Rice Dwarf Virus (RDV) were recorded using the Coherent X-ray Imaging (CXI) instrument at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). RDV was chosen as it is a well-characterized model system, useful for proof-of-principle experiments, system optimization and algorithm development. RDV, an icosahedral virus of about 70 nm in diameter, was aerosolized and injected into the approximately 0.1 μm diameter focused hard X-ray beam at the CXI instrument of LCLS. Diffraction patterns from RDV with signal to 5.9 Ångström were recorded. Here, the diffraction data are available through the Coherent X-ray Imaging Data Bank (CXIDB)more » as a resource for algorithm development, the contents of which are described here.« less
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  5. Ultrafast X-ray imaging on individual fragile specimens such as aerosols, metastable particles, superfluid quantum systems and live biospecimens provides high-resolution information that is inaccessible with conventional imaging techniques. Coherent X-ray diffractive imaging, however, suffers from intrinsic loss of phase, and therefore structure recovery is often complicated and not always uniquely defined. Here in this paper, we introduce the method of in-flight holography, where we use nanoclusters as reference X-ray scatterers to encode relative phase information into diffraction patterns of a virus. The resulting hologram contains an unambiguous three-dimensional map of a virus and two nanoclusters with the highest lateral resolutionmore » so far achieved via single shot X-ray holography. Our approach unlocks the benefits of holography for ultrafast X-ray imaging of nanoscale, non-periodic systems and paves the way to direct observation of complex electron dynamics down to the attosecond timescale.« less

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