CXI: Coherent X-ray Imaging

The CXI hutch is popular with scientists who study membrane proteins – gatekeeper molecules that control what goes in and out of cells. Although they are among the most medically significant biological molecules and the targets of half of all approved drugs, they are very hard to study with traditional X-ray sources like synchrotrons. LCLS is so bright that it can capture information from much smaller crystals of these proteins. This has allowed scientists to discover the detailed structures of a protein related to insect-transmitted African sleeping sickness and of another one, arrestin, that delivers signals between cells, among many other examples. Knowing the structure of arrestin could lead to better drugs for high blood pressure, diabetes and other medical conditions.

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The CXI (Coherent X-ray Imaging) instrument takes advantage of extremely bright, ultrashort LCLS pulses of hard X-rays to allow imaging of non-periodic nanoscale objects, including single or small clusters of biomolecules at or near atomic resolution.