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Exploring nanoscale motion and molecular alignment using ultrafast coherent diffraction

Final Report Summary - X-MOTION (Exploring nanoscale motion and molecular alignment using ultrafast coherent diffraction)

X-motion project focuses on developing a way to improve X-ray imaging of single nanoparticles.
When a single particle is exposed to multiple X-ray pulses, an image can be built by means of diffraction. However, without knowing the orientation of a particle beforehand, this kind of imaging becomes a major challenge. The 'Exploring nanoscale motion and molecular alignment using ultrafast coherent diffraction' (X-MOTION) project has overcome some aspects of this challenge through the use of azobenzene polymers, new 3D imaging techniques using either laser based coherent X-ray source of large scale free electrons laser (Stanford, USA and Hamburg, Germany).
Azobenzene was chosen because its orientation can be controlled using ultraviolet light, enabling it to maintain the alignment of particles. We have performed extensive analysis of the azobenzene molecule to determine whether or not it is suitable for driving nanoscale motion. The isomerisation (change in alignment) of azobenzene–nanoparticle complexes have shown a motion of few % of the attached gold nanoparticle. We have also studied the motion of diiodobenzonitrile, a simple molecule that is similar in some ways to azobenzene. The team showed that it was possible to measure the diffraction, alignment and structure of the molecule.
X-MOTION has pioneered a new approach that will provide unparalleled information about the structure and properties of nanoparticles. The technique is expected to have wide-ranging applications. An outcome of this research is the development of a new nanoscale imaging technique.
Indeed a contract with a SME to develop a "nanoscope", a lensless microscope capable of nanometer scale resolution has been initiated thanks to the expertise acquirer during the X-motion project.