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Making molecular movies

Molecular movies of photosynthesis and other biological reactions may provide insights for inexpensive renewable energy sources and new drug therapies.

A still from the first movie of photosynthesis. The imaging technique captures ultrafast reactions.


A still from the first movie of photosynthesis. The imaging technique captures ultrafast reactions.
Credit and Larger Version


May 10, 2018

Using a high-powered X-ray laser and specially designed crystals, NSF-funded researchers have made the first movie of photosynthesis, the live-giving process that converts sunlight into chemical energy. A better understanding of how this process occurs could provide new insights to engineer clean, inexpensive, scalable, renewable energy alternatives.

Supported by an NSF award to the Center for Biology with X-ray Free Electron Lasers, the researchers also create movies of high-speed molecular movements that determine how medicines affect diseased cells. The movies are a powerful new tool to capture biological reactions since protein movements occur on a scale far too small and too fast for conventional microscopes to image.

NSF Directorate(s):
Directorate for Biological Sciences
Office of Integrative Activities

Locations
New York

Related Awards
#1231306 Biology with X-ray Lasers

This NSF Impact is one of thousands of research outcomes made possible by NSF that help fuel the U.S. economy, enhance national security and sustain U.S. global leadership by advancing knowledge. You can search for more NSF Impacts at https://www.nsf.gov/impacts.

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