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Phys. Rev. Lett. 104, 095501 (2010) [4 pages]

Nondestructive Imaging of Individual Biomolecules

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Matthias GermannTatiana LatychevskaiaConrad Escher, and Hans-Werner Fink 
Institute of Physics, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland

Received 4 September 2009; published 2 March 2010

Radiation damage is considered to be the major problem that still prevents imaging an individual biological molecule for structural analysis. So far, all known mapping techniques using sufficient short wavelength radiation, be it x rays or high energy electrons, circumvent this problem by averaging over many molecules. Averaging, however, leaves conformational details uncovered. Even the anticipated use of ultrashort but extremely bright x-ray bursts of a free electron laser shall afford averaging over 106 molecules to arrive at atomic resolution. Here, we present direct experimental evidence for nondestructive imaging of individual DNA molecules. In fact, we show that DNA withstands coherent low energy electron radiation with deBroglie wavelength in the Ã…ngstrom regime despite a vast dose of 108  electrons/nm2accumulated over more than one hour.

© 2010 The American Physical Society

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