Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz make visible the structure of the smallest crystals, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
"A radical new way of making structures visible at the nano level has been developed at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). This new method makes it possible to determine with precision the arrangement of atoms and molecules in a diverse range of materials from cement to pharmaceuticals. The procedure, which is still in its infancy, comes from the field of electron microscopy and can resolve the structure of the tiniest crystals. ... "There is a large number of natural and synthetic solid materials for which our method may be used - materials which are not available or cannot be manufactured in a suitable crystal size." ... In comparison with conventional electron microscopy characterizations, electron diffraction tomography is considerably faster, more accurate, and more complete. Whereas before, structures were researched for two years, using ADT a result can be obtained within just one day."
Using the ISS: Once Again NASA Has Been Left in the Dust, earlier post
"With the research results presented in these two papers, it would seem that structural information for biological molecules can now be obtained from vanishingly small biological samples - so called "nanocrystals" using a hard X-ray laser - on Earth - no space station required. ... If only NASA could find a way to get things from idea - to hardware - to orbit - and back faster and cheaper, the ISS might have played more of a role in this field of protein crystallography.
Keith's note: Growing perfect crystals in space (on the Space Shuttle and Space Station) has been one of NASA's favorite promotional items in its mantra of promoting the use of the ISS as a "world class laboratory". The need for large crystals grown at great expense in space is quickly vanishing due to advances made on Earth. As mentioned in the original post from February 2011, NASA dragged its feet on this and missed the bus. Yet if you go to any of the agency's ISS websites - or read the promotional materials about research opportunities - not a word is offered about new and cheaper ground-based alternatives to growing large crystals in space. That's because the agency is incapable of staying current on the very science it is trying to promote - or being intellectually honest with people as they continue to use outdated reasons to hype the ISS.