A group of researchers has developed a new CT scan-like technique that is capable of detecting the shapes of very small organic molecules.
Previously, x-rays were used to do this, but it was a slow process as the molecules needed to be in a large crystal formation for the x-rays to detect them.
This new technique, however, does not require the molecules to be in a crystal form, cutting down the time to determine a molecule’s shape significantly.
The technique relies on electron diffraction, which is an approach previously used to study the shapes of larger molecules like proteins.
A beam is sent through a crystal, which can then determine its structure from diffraction patterns – much like an x-ray approach.
This approach can speed up the process of determining chemical structures of potential new drugs, allowing compounds with crystals too small for x-ray to be detected.
Drug discoveries can significantly accelerate – bringing out more effective medicines – and this technique may even have prospective applications in crime labs to more easily identify narcotic strains.