Ian K Robinson
THE NUCLEATION PHASE OF BIOLOGICAL CRYSTALS
Professor Robinson’s research interest is the atomic structure of surfaces and interfaces. He is developing a new experimental technique called coherent X-ray diffraction (CXD), which allows three-dimensional imaging of the interiors of micron-sized crystals with a spatial resolution below 100 nm. The technique is particularly sensitive to microscopic strain fields that can be mapped in three dimensions in the same way that a “CAT scan” slices open the body’s interior.
During his Center appointment, he will apply the CXD method to studying the nucleation phase of protein crystals. This largely unexplored state of matter, which precedes the macroscopic growth phase, may well be the key to understanding why some proteins crystallize rapidly and indiscriminately while others can be very difficult to crystallize. He plans to make good use of the Center’s opportunities to interact with colleagues from the biological and informational sciences.