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X-ray Diffraction: Principles

  1. Jan Drenth

Published Online: 28 MAY 2003

DOI: 10.1038/npg.els.0002721



How to Cite

Drenth, J. 2003. X-ray Diffraction: Principles. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 28 MAY 2003


The properties of biological macromolecules cannot be fully understood without knowledge of their three-dimensional structure. For mutation of proteins and for rational drug design it is essential to know the three-dimensional structure. X-ray diffraction is one technique for structure determination. It requires the macromolecules to be present in a well-organized arrangement as crystals or as fibres; amorphous material does not provide sufficient information.


  • X-rays;
  • crystallography;
  • crystals;
  • diffraction