Serial Femtosecond Crystallography (SFX): An Overview

Mark S. Hunter, Petra Fromme

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


X-ray crystallography is a very powerful tool to determine structures of biological macromolecules at the atomic and molecular level and thereby enables insights into their function. Unfortunately, irradiating biological samples with X-rays is an inherently damaging and unavoidable process in conventional X-ray crystallography. The unique properties of X-ray free electron lasers (FELs), with pulse duration in the femtosecond range, allow data collection at time scales shorter than, or equivalent to, the time scales of the X-ray induced radiation damage pathways, offering a plausible way to diminish the ill effects of conventional radiation damage in biological structure determination. However, the high intensities of the X-ray FEL beam necessitated the development of novel techniques for sample preparation, characterization, introduction, data collection, and analysis. Serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) represents a set of techniques developed to enable X-ray crystallography experiments at X-ray FELs, which encompasses multiple developments in sample introduction and data collection. This chapter summarizes the early experiments that demonstrated the SFX methods along with more recent developments and accomplishments that will be discussed in more detail in the following chapters of this book.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationX-ray Free Electron Lasers
Subtitle of host publicationA Revolution in Structural Biology
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic)9783030005511
ISBN (Print)9783030005504
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Chemistry


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