Article by Laura Otto
In the last several years, UWM physicists have participated in experiments to capture images of atomic biology unfolding by using an X-ray free electron laser, equipment that creates slow-motion movies of molecular events happening at split-second timescales.
Already, a team led by UWM physics professor Marius Schmidt has used the XFEL at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California to image the bacterium that causes tuberculosis as it disarms an antibiotic.
Now Schmidt and his graduate students are co-authors on a paper detailing the first test of Europe’s next-generation XFEL in Hamburg, Germany, which is an order of magnitude faster than the billionth-of-a-second image-taking capability of SLAC’s XFEL.
At the inaugural testing of Europe’s XFEL in September 2017, Schmidt, doctoral student Suraj Pandey and post-doctoral researcher Christopher Kupitz joined an international research group in the imaging a bacterial enzyme that plays an important role in antibiotic resistance.
The results of the experiment were announced today by the European XFEL, the German Electron Synchrotron and the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland. The team proved the speed and accuracy of the apparatus while also revealing the structural changes of an enzyme as it rendered an antibiotic useless.