Frontiers Seminar - 3DED / MicroED for crystal structure determination from materials, small molecules to proteins

9 February 2023

You are invited to a Frontiers Seminar.

Date/Time: Monday 13th February 2023, 12:00 - 13:00 (AEST)
Title: 3DED / MicroED for Crystal Structure Determination - from Materials, Small molecules to Proteins
Presenter: Dr Hongyi Xu - Stockholm University, Sweden
Venue: AIBN Building 75, Level 1 Seminar Room


X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) has been an indispensable tool in structural chemistry, structural biology and material science. Despite the evolution in laboratory X-ray and synchrotron sources that have occurred in the last decade, a significant roadblock in the determination of molecular structures is the ability to grow crystals of sufficient size and quality which can be time-consuming, complicated, requires a large amount of purified molecules, or even unfeasible for many biological macromolecules and pharmaceutical compounds. Three-Dimensional electron diffraction (3D ED), also known as Micro-crystal electron diffraction (MicroED), is an emerging and game-changing technique with the potential to overcome these challenges as it allows structure determination of crystals 1 billionth the size of those used for SCXRD.
Since 2007, 3D ED has allowed structure determination of landmark samples, mostly inorganic, that were considered impracticable for X-ray methods. Researchers from several labs have developed different experimental set-ups for data acquisition, for example, automated diffraction tomography (ADT) and rotation electron diffraction (RED, Stockholm University). In 2013, Gonen’s lab successfully developed the MicroED technique for determining macromolecular crystal structures. However, 3D ED/MicroED is still in its infancy. Further development is required to unleash the full potential of 3D ED/MicroED applications in materials science, structural chemistry and structural biology. In this talk, I would like to present our latest development in specimen preparation, data collection and processing protocol, examples of crystal structure determination by MicroED, ongoing method developments and future perspective of 3D ED/MicroED.


After completing a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronics) degree at The University of Queensland, Hongyi pursued a PhD in materials engineering, specialising in electron microscopy and semiconductor nano-materials. The Australian Government sponsored his PhD study through the Australian Postgraduate Awards program. He obtained his PhD degree at UQ in Dec 2013. He received the Dean’s accommodation for academic excellence and the best thesis of the year award from the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering. In Feb. 2014, Hongyi started his postdoc fellowship (Wenner-Gren Foundation postdoc award) in Prof. Xiaodong Zou’s group at Stockholm University. In 2015, he initiated the development of MicroED (3D electron diffraction technique for studying biomolecules) at Zou’s group. Hongyi became a principal investigator in 2018 to further develop and apply electron crystallography methods for studying structures of small molecules and macromolecules. He received a starting grant from the Swedish Research Council (Equivalent to ARC DECRA). Recently, Hongyi and colleagues solved the first new protein structure using MicroED. They also showed that it is possible to reveal protein inhibitor binding by MicroED. He is now working as a researcher/principal investigator at Stockholm University. Hongyi is an investigator for the recently awarded MicroED/3DED ARC LIEF grant of $1.29 million, in which he will be involved in establishing a dedicated 3DED facility at UQ.

All welcome!