Serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) using X-ray Free-Electron Lasers (XFELs) allows for room temperature protein structure determination without evidence of conventional radiation damage. In this method, a liquid suspension of protein microcrystals can be delivered to the X-ray beam in vacuum as a micro-jet, which replenishes the crystals at a rate that exceeds the current XFEL pulse repetition rate. Gas dynamic virtual nozzles produce the required micrometer-sized streams by the focusing action of a coaxial sheath gas and have been shown to be effective for SFX experiments. Here, we describe the design and characterization of such nozzles assembled from ceramic micro-injection molded outer gas-focusing capillaries. Trends of the emitted jet diameter and jet length as a function of supplied liquid and gas flow rates are measured by a fast imaging system. The observed trends are explained by derived relationships considering choked gas flow and liquid flow conservation. Finally, the performance of these nozzles in a SFX experiment is presented, including an analysis of the observed background.
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