• GlaxoSmithKline, Stevenage

    A synthetic-medicinal chemist working in the laboratories at GlaxoSmithKline draws the 2-D chemical structure of a molecule submitted for analysis by X-ray crystallography. Chemistry meets crystallography in pharmaceutical research, as scientists work closely together in large teams to develop new medicines.

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    ILLUMINATING ATOMS

  • Rolls Royce, Barnoldswick

    The technicians are forming a fan blade for a jet engine from titanium alloys, by injecting high-pressure argon gas at extremely high temperatures (~1000°C). Crystallography experiments carried out on these blades help understand how their performance is affected by the materials used in the manufacturing process.

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    ILLUMINATING ATOMS

  • Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford

    Centrosomes are molecular machines that organise the process of cell division in the body. To understand this process better, scientists try to grow crystals and solve the structures of the proteins from which they are built. These crystals are of a protein that co-ordinates the assembly of this important cellular machine.

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    ILLUMINATING ATOMS

  • Pharmorphix, Cambridge

    Pharmorphix is a leading provider of services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and specialty chemical industries. Active pharmaceutical materials may display very different properties depending on the arrangement of molecules in their crystal structure.

    Needle-shaped single crystals are often difficult to analyse. Finding the right crystal can be like looking for a ‘needle in a haystack’. However, finding it is the first step in the development of treatments for diseases such as malaria.

     

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    ILLUMINATING ATOMS

  • Pharmorphix, Cambridge

    The rapid crystallisation of the proprietary cancer drug shown here mimics the metamorphosis from the early years of cancer treatment to the ground-breaking, life-saving drugs available today.

    Pharmorphix focuses on understanding, enhancing, and optimizing the physical properties of active drug substances and the final drug product to deliver safe and effective medicines.

     

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    ILLUMINATING ATOMS

  • Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, University of Leeds

    The University of Leeds’ Professor of Physics, William Henry Bragg, was awarded the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics (uniquely with his son, Lawrence) for developing the principles of crystallography. Today at Leeds’ Astbury Centre, a modern biological research facility, this scientist is 'fishing’ for crystals, using a microscope to identify good candidates for an X-ray crystallography experiment.

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    ILLUMINATING ATOMS

  • Diamond Light Source, Didcot

    Diamond Light Source is the UK’s synchrotron science facility, producing light 10 billion times brighter than the Sun. Each year, more than 3000 scientists visit Diamond to use the beams for experiments, and many of these researchers are crystallographers. Solving the structure of insulin took Dorothy Hodgkin 30 years, but with Diamond it could have been done in an hour.

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    ILLUMINATING ATOMS

  • Institut Laue-Langevin, Grenoble

    The D20 powder-diffraction beamline is inside the reactor hall of the Institut Laue-Langevin, and uses neutrons for crystallography experiments. This instrument is used to follow the changes in crystal structure during chemical reactions, such as when a battery is discharged.

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    ILLUMINATING ATOMS

  • STFC ISIS EnginX Diffractometer, Didcot

    A scientist uses a touch probe to align a turbocharger from a lorry engine in a crystallography experiment. Large engineering components are regularly tested at ISIS to see how manufacturing processes (casting, welding, etc.) affect the structure of the materials’ atoms.

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    ILLUMINATING ATOMS

  • European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Grenoble; Beamline ID30

    This scientist is working on an X-ray apparatus optimised for fully automatic crystal screening and biological crystallography experiments.

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    ILLUMINATING ATOMS

  • STFC ISIS WISH Diffractometer, Didcot

    Engineers maintain the WISH instrument, which is used for neutron-crystallography experiments. This diffractometer, with its large array of detectors encircling the sample, is perfect for studying the arrangement of magnetic atoms in exotic superconducting crystals.

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    ILLUMINATING ATOMS

  • Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions, University of Edinburgh/Newcastle University

    Diamond is one of the hardest substances known. Squeezing a tiny crystal between two diamond tips subjects it to extreme pressures, making the crystal structure change in extreme ways. The crystal can experience conditions like those deep in the earth’s crust, where minerals like rubies and emeralds are formed.

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    ILLUMINATING ATOMS

  • Diamond Light Source, Didcot; Beamline I19

    A crystal is placed on the end of the pin on the left of the image, with a stream of cool air coming in from the right. The X-ray beam arrives from the silver pipe in the centre of the picture, and the (black) camera images the crystal.

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    ILLUMINATING ATOMS

  • European Photon and Neutron Science Campus, Grenoble

    UK crystallographers go to Grenoble, in France, to carry out experiments using powerful X-rays from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (the ring-shaped building), and neutrons from the reactor at the Institut Laue-Langevin (domed building, lower left), in order to study complicated crystal structures, including the most complex biological systems.

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    ILLUMINATING ATOMS

  • AstraZeneca, Cambridge

    AstraZeneca scientists using X-ray crystal protein structures to help design new treatments for diseases. Pharmaceutical company researchers can use ideas inspired by crystallography to help design new molecules that can provide improved drug treatments. These AstraZeneca scientists are looking at a 3-D visualisation of AZD9291, a potential anti-cancer drug, to see how its shape complements its target in lung cancer cells, to stop the cancer cells growing.

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    ILLUMINATING ATOMS

  • Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford

    Workers at this Oxford laboratory celebrate with a bottle of champagne every time a new crystal structure is determined. This feat is always worth celebrating; even with high-tech laboratory equipment, synchrotrons, and supercomputers, it can still take many years to grow a crystal, measure its diffraction pattern, and solve its structure.

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    ILLUMINATING ATOMS