UWM team the first to “see” atomic changes in proteins with an X-ray laser

A research team led by physicists at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) has proven a method that makes it possible to find the atomic structure of proteins in action by producing “snapshots” of them with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution.

What made it possible were the ultra-short X-ray pulses of a Free Electron Laser (XFEL).

Physics professor Marius Schmidt and doctoral student Jason Tenboer recently completed the experiment with the XFEL at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in California.

It confirms that the XFEL imaging method, called time-resolved serial femtosecond crystallography (TR-SFX), can unmask protein structures that have never been seen before, determine what each protein does and reveal how they work together to carry out nearly every function in a living organism.