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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. Here, the dynamics of liquid water feature a variety of time scales, ranging from extremely fast ballistic-like thermal motion, to slower molecular diffusion and hydrogen-bond rearrangements. Here, we utilize coherent X-ray pulses to investigate the sub-100 fs equilibrium dynamics of water from ambient conditions down to supercooled temperatures. This novel approach utilizes the inherent capability of X-ray speckle visibility spectroscopy to measure equilibrium intermolecular dynamics with lengthscale selectivity, by measuring oxygen motion in momentum space. The observed decay of the speckle contrast at the first diffraction peak, which reflects tetrahedral coordination, is attributed to motion on a molecular scale withinmore » the first 120 fs. Through comparison with molecular dynamics simulations, we conclude that the slowing down upon cooling from 328 K down to 253 K is not due to simple thermal ballistic-like motion, but that cage effects play an important role even on timescales over 25 fs due to hydrogen-bonding.« 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
    Cited by 21Full Text Available
  5. Using an X-ray laser, we investigated the crystal structure of ice formed by homogeneous ice nucleation in deeply supercooled water nanodrops (r ≈ 10 nm) at ~225 K. The nanodrops were formed by condensation of vapor in a supersonic nozzle, and the ice was probed within 100 μs of freezing using femtosecond wide-angle X-ray scattering at the Linac Coherent Light Source free-electron X-ray laser. The X-ray diffraction spectra indicate that this ice has a metastable, predominantly cubic structure; the shape of the first ice diffraction peak suggests stacking-disordered ice with a cubicity value, χ, in the range of 0.78 ±more » 0.05. The cubicity value determined here is higher than those determined in experiments with micron-sized drops but comparable to those found in molecular dynamics simulations. Lastly, the high cubicity is most likely caused by the extremely low freezing temperatures and by the rapid freezing, which occurs on a ~1 μs time scale in single nanodroplets.« less
    Cited by 11Full Text Available
  6. In the present study, we investigate the process of evaporative cooling of nanometer-sized droplets in vacuum using molecular dynamics simulations with the TIP4P/2005 water model. The results are compared to the temperature evolution calculated from the Knudsen theory of evaporation which is derived from kinetic gas theory. The calculated and simulation results are found to be in very good agreement for an evaporation coefficient equal to unity. Lastly, our results are of interest to experiments utilizing droplet dispensers as well as to cloud micro-physics.

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