The School of Physics (Optics group) is the host institution in the multi-campus partnership researching imaging techniques arising from coherent X-ray sources, lead by Centre Director, Prof Keith Nugent.
CXS Mission Statement:
"To be the world leader in the development of coherent X-ray diffraction for imaging biological structures"
The ARC Centre of Excellence for Coherent X-ray Science (CXS) brings together leading Australian researchers in the fields of X-ray physics, the design and use of synchrotron radiation sources, and the preparation, manipulation and characterisation of biological samples.
Its aim is to open a new frontier in biotechnology: the non-crystallographic structure determination of membrane proteins. These proteins mediate the activity of pharmaceuticals in human medical therapies. Their structures, however, are still mostly unknown because they do not form suitable crystals for analysis using the conventional crystallographic techniques that have driven almost all progress in structural biology. A breakthrough in this area will revolutionise rational drug design and will have far-reaching consequences throughout the pharmaceutical industry.
CXS research is driven by access to existing third-generation synchrotron light sources and to the Australian Synchrotron. It is also exploring the application to imaging problems of short wavelength high-harmonic generation sources and free-electron X-ray lasers that are under development worldwide. When combined with non-crystallographic diffractive imaging techniques, the brightness and intensity of these sources in femto-second pulses offers the possibility of taking structural snapshots of biomolecules. CXS explores fundamental issues in the use of these new light sources, including: the nature of the interaction between intense coherent X-rays and electronic matter; the efficiency of diffraction processes in these highly coupled light-matter systems; the detection of the scattered light; the preparation and handling of suitable biological samples; the management of radiation damage throughout the interaction, and the design of algorithms to extract structural information from diffraction data.