Serial Femtosecond Crystallography (SFX) at X-ray Free electron Lasers (XFELs) is a relatively new field promising to deliver unparalleled spatial and temporal resolution on biological systems and there dynamics. Over the past decade, though, there have been a handful of results that have truly delivered on these promises. Why? SFX has many paradigm shifting techniques not seen in typical structural biology arenas, such as creating a concentrated slurry of microcrystals rather than a handful of loopable
prisms worthy of a catalog photo. Then taking that slurry and high speed jetting them towards the vacuum or helium interation region to destroy less than 1% of your sample and waste the other 99. The literature is full of techniques and methods promising to cure what ails your experiment, yet as an instrument scientist will tell you –and a first author might admit after a few drinks at the conference happy hour—is that there are a lot more failures than the success we published, results may vary
. We will walk through a best practices on how to prepare your sample and chose a sample delivery technique that will amerliorate your studies rather than undermine your hardwork and hopefully lead to better experimental planning and execution, inching you closer to that scientific goal and that call from Stockholm. This will be written in a more editorialized fashion and is meant to give the reader an idea of what to try or how they should be thinking. Welcome to SFX, now what?
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