Oxford Diffraction goes ‘SuperNova’

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: X-ray

Oxford Diffraction has launched a new dual wavelength X-ray diffractometer that promises to determine the structure of molecules in even the most challenging of crystal samples.

The new diffractometer, the SuperNova, aims to improve sample throughput by incorporating two high-intensity X-ray sources, faster detector technology and improved data analysis software that solves the crystal structure while the data is still being collected.

The instrument’s use of mixed X-ray wavelengths enables researchers to collect charge density data and determine absolute molecular structure during a single experiment.

The Supernova will no doubt compete head to head with the Apex Duo diffractometer launched by Bruker AXS last July.

Single crystal x-ray diffraction is used to determine the structure of small molecules and proteins with sub-atomic resolution within a crystalline sample. The data generated is used in a myriad of application areas including chemistry, geology, physics, structural biology and pharmaceutical research.

The SuperNova diffractometer is the first product released by Oxford Diffraction since the company was bought in April by Varian in a deal worth $37m in cash and assumed net debt.

The acquisition gave Varian a strong foothold in the X-ray diffraction market, which was valued at over $158m in 2005 by Frost & Sullivan in its 2006 report “World X-ray Instrumentation Markets”.

At the time of the acquisition Garry Rogerson, Varian’s CEO, said that the acquisition was “key to Varian’s goal of broadening its range of information-rich detection products for life science research.”

According to the firm, the SuperNova has been designed to meet the challenges of researchers wanting to analyse smaller and less uniformly crystalline samples.

"The SuperNova allows for high-throughput, information-rich, X-ray analysis of proteins and small molecules,"​ said Martin O'Donoghue, senior vice president for scientific Instruments at Varian.

"This solution complements our NMR products, strengthening our strategy of giving our customers ease of use while gathering extremely detailed structural information on large numbers of samples."

The system significantly improves the intensity of x-ray radiation reaching a crystal sample with its co-mounted, dual-wavelength high-intensity copper and molybdenum x-ray sources, Nova and Mova.

The high intensity of the sources means that diffraction spots are generated more quickly, enabling shorter x-ray exposures to be used.

Additionally, the large area CCD (charge-coupled device) detector has a significantly reduced duty time, such that the time taken for the detector to send data to the computer is significantly reduced.

According to Oxford Diffraction, the AutoChem software automates crystal structure solution, refinement and report generation with data analysis occurring during data collection. This significantly reduces the time needed to solve and refine the crystal structure.

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