Coherent Diffractive Imaging with X-ray Lasers

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: The newly emerging technology of X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) has the potential to revolutionise molecular imaging. XFELs generate very intense X-ray pulses and predictions suggest that they may be used for structure determination to atomic resolution even for single molecules. XFELs produce femtosecond pulses that outrun processes of radiation damage and permit the study of structures at room temperature and of structural dynamics.While the first demonstrations of flash X-ray diffractive imaging (FXI) on biological particles were encouraging, they also revealed technical challenges. In this work we demonstrated how some of these challenges can be overcome. We exemplified, with heterogeneous cell organelles, how tens of thousands of FXI diffraction patterns can be collected, sorted, and analysed in an automatic data processing pipeline. We improved  image resolution and reduced problems with missing data. We validated, described, and deposited the experimental data in the Coherent X-ray Imaging Data Bank.We demonstrated that aerosol injection can be used to collect FXI data at high hit ratios and with low background. We reduced problems with non-volatile sample contaminants by decreasing aerosol droplet sizes from ~1000 nm to ~150 nm. We achieved this by adapting an electrospray aerosoliser to the Uppsala sample injector. Mie scattering imaging was used as a diagnostic tool to measure positions, sizes, and velocities of individual injected particles.XFEL experiments generate large amounts of data at high rates. Preparation, execution, and data analysis of these experiments benefits from specialised software. In this work we present new open-source software tools that facilitates prediction, online-monitoring, display, and pre-processing of XFEL diffraction data.We hope that this work is a valuable contribution in the quest of transitioning FXI from its first experimental demonstration into a technique that fulfills its potentials.