Recovery of undamaged electron-density maps in the presence of damage-induced partial coherence in single-particle imaging


Resolving the electronic structure of single biological molecules in their native state was among the primary motivations behind X-ray free-electron lasers. The ultra-short pulses they produce can outrun the atomic motion induced by radiation damage, but the electronic structure of the sample is still significantly modified from its original state. This paper explores the decoherence of the scattered signal induced by temporal evolution of the electronic structure in the sample molecule. It is shown that the undamaged electron density of a single-molecule sample can often be retrieved using only the two most occupied modes from the coherent mode decomposition of the partially coherent diffraction fluence.

IUCrJ 7(6), 1114-1123