Atomic Imaging

Linking atomic structure to function is the key to understanding molecular interactions of any kind. The Atomic Imaging theme is aimed at developing techniques to better determine the atomic structure of proteins. There are three key technologies we are using and refining – (a) 4th generation X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL)-based femtosecond nanocrystallography, (b) 3rd generation micro-focussed Synchrotron-based crystallography, and (c) cryogenic Transmission Electron Microscopy (cryo-TEM).

Using these techniques and theoretical modelling of relevant beam-sample interactions, we focus on three specific outcomes:

  1. Obtaining structural information on challenging proteins using small crystals in femtosecond nanocrystallography or electron microscopy
  2. Determining protein structures and insights into function from single molecule X-ray crystallography and/or electron microscopy experiments
  3. Obtaining accurate dynamic insights or ‘Molecular movies’ that allow us to visualise how proteins change in shape dynamically during biological function

Reseach Highlights

Fresnel coherent diffractive imaging tomography of whole cells in capillaries. New Journal of Physics, Sep 2014

Centre CIs Brian Abbey and Keith Nugent and Partner Investigator Andrew Peele were part of a team of researchers who developed a new X-ray imaging technique to image whole cells in capillaries in three dimensions. Led by Drs Mac Luu and Grant van Riessen from La Trobe University, a node of the Imaging CoE, the researchers used this high resolution cellular imaging technique to image a red blood cell infected with a malaria parasite.

The experiments were conducted at the Advanced Photon Source in Chicago. Funding for the trip was provided by the International Synchrotron Access Program supported by the Australian Government and managed by the Australian Synchrotron, a partner organisation of the Centre.

Authors: MB Luu, GA van Riessen, B Abbey, MWM Jones, NW Phillips, K Elgass, MD Junker, DJ Vine, I McNulty, G Cadenazzi, C Millet, L Tilley, KA Nugent, AG Peele

Exploring the frontiers of nano-imaging

Metallic nanoparticles are among the smallest particles in existence – measuring 1-100 nanometres, where each nanometre is a millionth of a millimetre. Associate Professor Hans Elmlund from Monash University, and collaborators in the US and South Korea, have developed a novel technique to study the 3D structure of platinum nanoparticles at a level of detail never seen before.

Theme Leaders:
Keith Nugent, Brian Abbey, Harry Quiney

Henry Chapman, Ilme Schlicting, Carl Caleman, Garth Williams