Size no longer matters to x-ray crystallographers

New opportunities for studying substances available only as powdered, microcrystals, have been opened up for chemists, physicists and biologists by scientists at the European Synchrotron Radiation Foundation in Grenoble, France. Researchers there have, for the first time, used X-ray diffraction to determine the structure of microcrystalline grains just a cubic micrometer in size. The new approach exploits a highly focusable x-ray beam and the use of a goniometer to position the microcrystal very precisely. Proof of principle was carried out on a microporous aluminum carboxylate and represents a thousand-fold improvement in terms of the size of crystal that can now be studied.