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Obtaining atomically resolved structural information on individual bio molecules using electron holography

Objective

The objective of this project is to develop a technology to determine the structure of individual biological macromolecules at atomic resolution. This would open up new areas of science and technology since the majority of proteins would then be accessible to direct structure determination at an accuracy allowing drug design. The technology is based on low energy electron point source microscopy, which is highly novel.

Holography with low energy electrons does not employ lenses and thus does not suffer from lens aberration. In addition, it provides high contrast images and does not cause significant radiation damage. The structural information is contained in a hologram, which contains all information of the object wave. Phase and amplitude of the object wave are recorded and allow for a complete mathematical reconstruction of the original object. Although this project is high risk because of the ambitious nature of the objective, we plan to accomplish it in three years.

We will proceed by solving the following tangible objectives: Demonstrate that it is possible to suspend a single molecule in the path of a low energy electron beam (e.g. a coherent electron wave) without it undergoing a significant conformational change, obtain high contrast holograms before significant beam damage occurs and reconstruct the molecule from the hologram.

This project is highly interdisciplinary because finding solutions to these challenges requires specialized knowledge in diverse areas of science. Leaders in their fields of endeavour from across Europe have formed a consortium to bring together a critical mass of expertise needed for this project.

If successful, this project would have an impact well beyond it's objective. It would change the culture of life sciences as it would bring about new understanding of life processes at the molecular level. The long term industrial benefits would be a greatly improved ability for rational drug design.

Field of science

  • /medical and health sciences/basic medicine/medicinal chemistry

Call for proposal

FP6-2004-NEST-C-1
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

STREP - Specific Targeted Research Project

Coordinator

UNIVERSITÄT ZÜRICH
Address
Winterthurerstasse 190
Zurïch
Switzerland

Participants (3)

EUROPEAN MOLECULAR BIOLOGY LABORATORY
Germany
UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER
United Kingdom
USTAV PISTROJOVE TECHNIKY, AKADEMIE VD ESKE REPUBLIKY VEREJNA VYZKUMNA INSTITUCE
Czechia
Address
Kralovopolska 147
Brno