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Keywords:

  • diffraction data collection;
  • data-collection strategies;
  • detectors;
  • hybrid pixel detector;
  • single-photon counting

The data-collection parameters used in a macromolecular diffraction experiment have a strong impact on data quality. A careful choice of parameters leads to better data and can make the difference between success and failure in phasing attempts, and will also result in a more accurate atomic model. The selection of parameters has to account for the application of the data in various phasing methods or high-resolution refinement. Furthermore, experimental factors such as crystal characteristics, available experiment time and the properties of the X-ray source and detector have to be considered. For many years, CCD detectors have been the prevalent type of detectors used in macromolecular crystallography. Recently, hybrid pixel X-ray detectors that operate in single-photon-counting mode have become available. These detectors have fundamentally different characteristics compared with CCD detectors and different data-collection strategies should be applied. Fine ϕ-slicing is a strategy that is particularly well suited to hybrid pixel detectors because of the fast readout time and the absence of readout noise. A large number of data sets were systematically collected from crystals of four different proteins in order to investigate the benefit of fine ϕ-slicing on data quality with a noise-free detector. The results show that fine ϕ-slicing can substantially improve scaling statistics and anomalous signal provided that the rotation angle is comparable to half the crystal mosaicity.