Encyclopedia of Biophysics

2013 Edition
| Editors: Gordon C. K. Roberts

Electron Diffraction

  • Per BulloughEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-16712-6_660



Electron diffraction refers to the coherent scattering of high-energy electrons by proteins to generate interference patterns that can then be focused to form an image.


In principle, electron diffraction should provide atomic resolution information on the three-dimensional structure of proteins. Indeed the 100 keV electrons used in a standard electron microscope have a wavelength less than 0.004 nm. Electrons interact much more strongly with matter than do X-rays, with the scattering cross section for electrons by biological materials being some 10,000 times greater. This means that very small and thin specimens can be studied. With electrons the investigator has the added advantage that electron beams can be focused with magnetic lenses to form a high-resolution image. Image data can be used to retrieve the phases from ordered specimens by computer processing methods (Misell 1971; Glaeser et al. 2007...

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Copyright information

© European Biophysical Societies' Association (EBSA) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Krebs Institute for Biomolecular ResearchUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK