Biological Small-Angle Neutron Scattering Instrument
World-Class Support for World-Class Research
The Center for Structural Molecular Biology (CSMB) has been established at ORNL to support and develop the biological user research and science program at the Biological Small-Angle Neutron Scattering (Bio-SANS) instrument at the HFIR. The Bio-SANS program provides the user community with access to dedicated facilities and world-class capabilities for the analysis of the structure, function and dynamics of biological macromolecules.
Small-angle neutron scattering provides information on the global shape and form of biological systems in solution that are also sensitive to conformational changes on ligand/substrate binding as well as the structures and kinetics of the organization and assembly of complex macromolecular systems (10-10000 Å). The natural contrast difference between bio-materials such as proteins, lipids and nucleic acids can be used to exploited using neutron contrast variation techniques to probe individual components within complex biological systems, assemblies, composites or phases, enabling the structure and dynamics of individual components to be highlighted and analyzed in situ. These advantages make SANS particularly well suited to the structural analysis of the large multi-component biological complexes that make up the machinery of living cells. The combination of high neutron flux and low experimental background make the Bio-SANS instrument ideally matched to the demands of biological scattering and promises to significantly extend the number, size and complexity of biological systems that are accessible to neutron scattering analysis. Data from Bio-SANS is allowing researchers to investigate the structure, organization and assembly of a variety of biological materials, ranging from the analysis of peptide deposits implicated in amyloid disease, the analysis of electron transfer process in cellular systems and to the analysis of the structural changes in plant cell walls during processing and conversion of biomass to bio-fuels.