New Droplet-on-Tape Method Assists Biochemical Research at X-Ray Lasers

Dr. Muhammed Amin, Assistant Professor at the Center for Photonics and Smart Materials in Zewail City of Science and Technology with a team of researchers from different research labs has published a scientific paper in Nature Methods in the field of x-ray free-electron lasers.

The paper presents a robust way of delivering controlled sample amounts on demand using acoustic droplet ejection that rapidly replaces exposed samples by moving droplets along a miniature conveyor belt, timed to coincide with the arrival of the X-ray pulses. The droplet-on-tape system now allows the team to study the biochemical reactions in real-time from microseconds to seconds, revealing the stages of these complex reactions.

This new method solves a key issue in X-rays Free-electron Lasers studies, and that is the destruction of biological samples studied when exposed to intense x-ray levels within nanoseconds after they are exposed.

The research was the output of collaboration among Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and other institutes.

“Having a robust method for controlling the delivery of the samples is essential for imaging any catalytic reaction” Dr. Amin commented

The team published their paper titled Drop-on-demand sample delivery for studying biocatalysts in action at X-ray free-electron lasers in Nature Methods on February 27, 2017.

Also SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Stanford University has reported on this new method on its website.