News & Events





Photosynthesis seen in a new light by rapid X-ray pulses

November 8, 2019

The ability to transform sunlight into energy is one of Nature’s more remarkable feats. Scientists understand the basic process of photosynthesis, but many crucial details remain elusive, occurring at dimensions and fleeting time scales long deemed too minuscule to probe. Now, that is changing. In a new study, led by Petra Fromme and Nadia Zatsepin at the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery, the School of Molecular Sciences and the Department of Physics at ASU, researchers...

First-of-its-kind instrument enables one-of-a-kind student experience

October 1, 2019

What’s better than spending a hot Arizona summer working in a cool basement? Spending a hot Arizona summer in a cool basement, building a scientific instrument expected to be the first of its kind in the world. Beneath the newly opened Biodesign Institute building C, five Arizona State University students put their education to work this summer, aiding in the first phase of the compact X-ray free electron laser (CXFEL), a miniaturized high-fidelity X-ray source. While most free electron...

Bright lights, big science: Revolutionary laser instrument receives $4.7 million boost from the National Science Foundation

September 17, 2019

Deep within the subterranean confines of Building C—the latest addition to the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University—a pathbreaking machine is quietly taking shape. Designed to unlock some of nature’s tiniest and most fleeting mysteries, the Compact X-ray Free Electron Laser (CXFEL) is the only instrument of its kind in the world. The device is the brainchild of physicist William Graves, a passionate authority on massive, intricate machines for leading-edge science. For the...

Nature Research and the Biodesign Institute to co-host fall conference on imaging molecular reactions

August 13, 2019

Some of the world’s most accomplished scientific minds will converge on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus on November 6, 7 and 8 to explore new methods that make it possible to observe molecules in action. Illustrating the adage, "seeing is believing," the conference, “Functional dynamics – visualizing molecules in action,” will showcase how cutting-edge methods are pushing the boundaries of knowledge. At the conference, scientists will discuss how emerging methods – that...

Finding answers to cancer in the cosmos

April 25, 2019

When it comes to new diagnostics and treatments for cancer, researchers across the world are gaining traction. Now, scientists at the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery (CASD) are turning to outer space to understand the inner workings of a cancer-linked protein, known as Taspase 1. In conjunction with NASA and the National Cancer Institute, the CASD team plans to grow crystals under the conditions of microgravity in low earth orbit. The ultimate goal is to use this method to...

Beuses' $10 million gift to build world’s first-of-its-kind X-ray laser lab at ASU

April 18, 2019

Through their generous philanthropic investments, Leo and Annette Beus have already made a lasting ASU impact. They have changed the face of the downtown Phoenix landscape with the addition of the Beus Center for Law and Society, supported Sun Devil Athletics and provided numerous scholarships to increase student access to a college education. Now, with a new $10 million investment, the Beuses want to help shape the future of medicine and improve the lives of others. Their ever-deepening ASU...

X-ray laser study identifies crystalline intermediate in our 'pathway to breathing'

February 11, 2019

Scientists from Arizona State University’s School of Molecular Sciences, in collaboration with colleagues from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, have captured for the first time snapshots of crystal structures of intermediates in the biochemical pathway that enables us to breathe. Their results, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the article "Snapshot of an Oxygen Intermediate in the Catalytic Reaction of Cytochrome c...

ASU and BioXFEL consortium awarded $22.5 million to capture biology at the atomic level using X-ray lasers

October 10, 2018

Eight Arizona State University faculty researchers in a seven-campus consortium of U.S. universities are revolutionizing bioimaging through collaborations with academia and industry. A $22.5 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) allows the group to continue their groundbreaking work to develop advanced imaging techniques for critical biological processes that are difficult, if not impossible, to see with conventional methods. According to BioXFEL Director Edward Snell,...

First experiments at Europe's new X-ray laser reveal structure of antibiotic-disabling enzyme

October 2, 2018

International collaboration obtains the first scientific results from European XFEL An international collaboration led by the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron or DESY, with participation from Arizona State University’s Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery, the Department of Physics and the School of Molecular Sciences, has announced the results of the first scientific experiments at Europe's new X-ray free-electron laser, European XFEL. Over 120 international...

Smaller, faster, harder: Crystallography with XFELs

July 30, 2018

Richard Feynman knew a thing or two about biology. He is reported to have said, “Everything that living things do can be understood in terms of the jigglings and wigglings of atoms.” That is undoubtedly true, but until very recently almost everything we knew about biological processes at the molecular scale was derived from static images. Now, however, the new crystallography technique of X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) spectroscopy is enabling structural biologists to take snapshots of...