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Project TitleCryo-temperature Small-angle X-ray Scattering to Prevent Radiation Damage
Track Code5932
Short Description

This invention demonstrates methods for obtaining high quality SAXS data from cryocooled samples without inducing radiation damage.


Small angle x-ray scattering (SAXS) is a versatile and widely used technique for obtaining low-resolution structures of macromolecules and complexes. SAXS experiments measure molecules in solution, without the need for labeling or crystallization. However, radiation damage currently limits the application of SAXS to molecules that can be produced in microgram quantities; for typical proteins, 10–20 μL of solution at 1 mg/mL is required to accumulate adequate signal before irreversible x-ray damage is observed.

This invention demonstrates methods for obtaining high quality SAXS data from cryocooled samples. We show that cryocooled proteins and nucleic acids can withstand doses at least two orders of magnitude larger than room temperature samples. We demonstrate accurate T = 100 K particle envelope reconstructions from sample volumes as small as 15 nL, a factor of 1000 smaller than in current practice. Cryo-SAXS will thus enable structure determination of difficult-to-express proteins and biologically important, highly radiation-sensitive proteins including light-activated switches and metalloenzymes.


Potential Applications

High-throughput studies of macromolecule structure and function, particularly:

  • Macromolecules that degrade over time, are available in limited quantity, or are especially radiation-sensitive
  • Rapid data collection studies
  • High-brightness X-ray sources



  • No signs of radiation damage
  • Dramatically reduced sample volume requirements
  • Ease of sample storage, transport and measurement
Tagsmeasurement, life science, industrial imaging, Nucleic acid research devices and methods, Sample prep, x-ray, Biotech Research & Production Tools, physical science
Posted DateJul 8, 2013 1:59 PM


Robert Thorne
Matthew Warkentin
Lois Pollack
Stephen Meisberger

Additional Information

Licensing Contact

Patrick Govang

(607) 254-2330