Nanocrystallography measurements of early stage synthetic malaria pigment Academic Article uri icon


  • The recent availability of extremely intense, femtosecond X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) sources has spurred the development of serial femtosecond nanocrystallography (SFX). Here, SFX is used to analyze nanoscale crystals of β-hematin, the synthetic form of hemozoin which is a waste by-product of the malaria parasite. This analysis reveals significant differences in β-hematin data collected during SFX and synchrotron crystallography experiments. To interpret these differences two possibilities are considered: structural differences between the nanocrystal and larger crystalline forms of β-hematin, and radiation damage. Simulation studies show that structural inhomogeneity appears at present to provide a better fit to the experimental data. If confirmed, these observations will have implications for designing compounds that inhibit hemozoin formation and suggest that, for some systems at least, additional information may be gained by comparing structures obtained from nanocrystals and macroscopic crystals of the same molecule.


  • Dilanian, R
  • Streltsov, V
  • Coughlan, Hannah D
  • Quiney, H
  • Martin, Andrew
  • Klonis, N
  • Dogovski, Con
  • Boutet, S
  • Messerschmidt, M
  • Williams, G
  • Williams, S
  • Phillips, Nicholas
  • Nugent, Keith
  • Tilley, L
  • Abbey, Brian

publication date

  • 2017