Featured article on x-ray diffractive imaging of controlled gas-phase molecules reveals the molecular structure of 2,5-diiodothiophene

28 February, 2020

Structure determines function. This simple statement is the key motivation behind diffraction experiments of small molecules, viruses or bacteria, which are performed in order to understand their function. Featured as Editor's Choice and highlighted in an AIP Scilight.

In our recent article "X-ray diffractive imaging of controlled gas-phase molecules: Toward imaging of dynamics in the molecular frame" we experimentally demonstrated an individual-molecule x-ray diffraction experiment. We used an x-ray free-electron laser (LCLS) to measure the atomic-level structure of 2,5-diiodothiophene, a prototypical small molecule. X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs) have the potential to not only make images of molecules, but allow further to record so-called <i>molecular movies</i>, i.e., movies about the dynamics or structural changes that are occurring in molecules during chemical reactions.  

The presented experiment is a strong benchmark for the structure determination of small molecules at x-ray FELs and serves as the foundation for future experiments at more advanced XFELs such as the European XFEL, which will be powerful enough to record a molecular movie of aligned gas-phase molecules. 

Our publication was featured as "Editor's Choice" and highlighted in an AIP Scilight.

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