In cooperation with the Innovation Office of the University of Basel, ELDICO conducted a cross-institute workshop with the theme “The Future of Structural Elucidation”. Together with the participants and our keynote speaker Professor Dr. Mauro Gemmi, we discussed the scientific and industrial applications of electron diffraction, one of the most rapidly developing and exciting fields of crystallography.
The event was held at the premises of and in partnership with Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area. The expert feedback confirms ELDICO’s approach to designing an electron diffractometer with a powerful 160kV source, pre-aligned lenses, a sample stage accurate to <300 nm and a sensitive, noise-free, hybrid-pixel detector, operated by conventional crystallographic software. The ELDICO device will therefore offer its users unsurpassed data quality, resulting in atomic structures accurate to 10% or better from nanometer-sized crystals.
Despite pandemic restrictions on the number of participants in the room, and thanks to ZOOM, we noted overwhelming participation from 10 Basel-based institutes – among them the Department of Chemistry, Department of Physics, the Swiss Nano Science Institute (SNI), the Friedrich Miescher Institute (FMI), Biomaterials Science Center (BMC) and the Department of Biosystems Science Center and Engineering (DBSSE), to name a few. With a group from Roche, there were also industrial participants attending the event.
The purpose of the workshop, initiated by Professor Dr. Hans Florian Zeilhofer, Delegate for Innovation and leading the Innovation Office of the University of Basel, was to inform Basel’s institutes about the fascinating possibilities of electron diffraction (ED), which is in fact one of the most rapidly developing and exciting fields of crystallography. Over the past two years, every relevant congress or conference dedicated to crystallography, chemistry, material sciences, geology or biomolecules has featured the topic of ED. Publications on ED are increasing rapidly. Click here for a selected list of the top seven scientific publications on ED.
“ED is a strategic and economic opportunity”
Keynote speaker was Professor Dr. Mauro Gemmi, Director at the Center for Nanotechnology Innovation@NEST of Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia Pisa, Italy, and a scientific advisory board member of ELDICO Scientific. He spoke about the Nano -Crystallography Revolution: 3D Electron Diffraction from Inorganic Nanoparticals to Protein Nanocrystals and described how ED had evolved over the years, what challenges were presently involved in doing ED on an electron microscope, as well as a variety of scientific applications from different fields of science, including recommendations on how to make ED better, such as using an optimised electron diffractometer.
Pharmacy and drug discovery are certainly among those areas, and first and foremost the pharmaceutical companies with their drug discovery activities may benefit. Assumingly the topic of electron diffraction is a strategic and economic opportunity for thse companies, as it will increase their competitiveness by significantly increasing the number of fully characterised potential API candidates, reducing the time and therefore costs of drug development by up to 15%.
Electron diffraction makes it possible to perform structural elucidation experiments on nano-sized particles
But there are multiple opportunities beyond pharma. Julian Wennmacher from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) gave an outlook on emerging ED applications in the next five years. He focused in particular on industrial applications such as zeolites and MOFs, but also explained past challenges now overcome, such as the preferred orientation of crystallites on a microscope grid.
ED makes it possible to perform structural elucidation experiments on nano-sized particles, such as organic or inorganic particles, biomolecules, energy-storage materials, zeolites, and MOFs. The structure determination of polymorphic forms for pharmaceutical compounds can be conducted on single nanoparticles. “Even powder X-ray experiments for quality control (QC) issues may be superseded by ED-based analytics”, says Dr. Gustavo Santiso-Quinones, Chief Scientific Officer at ELDICO.
In light of numerous discussions with the scientific user community and ED experts, we have decided to design our electron diffractometer to have a powerful 160kV source, pre-aligned lenses, a sample stage accurate to <300 nm and a sensitive, noise-free, hybrid-pixel detector, operated by conventional crystallographic software.
The dedicated electron diffractometer made by ELDICO will therefore offer its users unsurpassed data quality, resulting in atomic structures accurate to 10% or better from nanometer-sized crystals.
In cooperation with University of Basel, ELDICO will now explore the joint possibilities for operating and using an electron diffractometer on the premises of Switzerland Innovation Park Basel. This will be another plus for the globally leading pharma hub of Basel and Northwestern Switzerland.
More Scientific Content from ELDICO:
What are Electron Diffraction and Nanocrystallography and why are they important? (White Paper) — Rapid Structure Determination of Microcrystalline Molecular Compounds Using Electron Diffraction (Peer-Reviewed Paper) — Can Electron Diffraction distinguish between carbon and nitrogen atoms? (Application Note).