10 advantages of ED-based approaches to crystallography

During the past years, every relevant congress or conference dedicated to crystallography, chemistry, material sciences, geology, biomolecules and many other areas has featured sessions, key speakers and lectures that address the topic of electron diffraction (ED). The number of scientific publications on this technique is also increasing rapidly. The recent ECM33 Versailles conference proved that electron diffraction is the up-to-the-minute topic for crystallography. This upswing is supported by instrumental innovations such as the ELDICO ED-1, the worlds first system dedicated solely to electron diffraction.

A dedicated electron diffractometer is a disruptive innovation that sets new standards in scientific and industrial research. In case you are wondering why and how electron diffraction can bring innovation to your research, we have compiled a list of 10 advantages of ED and the instrumentation concept proposed by ELDICO. If you would like more information about the potential of electron diffraction, download our application note and get insights into this exciting field that will re-configure the way crystallography research is carried out.

  1. ED can do what other well-established techniques can — and then some. With ED, while using electrons instead of X-Rays as a source of radiation, the same kind of diffraction experiments can be carried out. But ED makes it possible to go down to nano-scale and produce atomic structures on nano-crystalline material.   
  2. Get rid of the troublesome crystallization experiments. One of the big advantages of ED is the fact that no large single crystals need to be grown in order to carry out diffraction experiments. Instead, the structure of nano-crystalline compounds can be obtained hassle-free, directly “from the flask”.
  3. Fast, faster, the fastest. Not only is the troublesome procedure of growing µm-sized crystals avoided, but with ED, the process of getting data is much faster. 
  4. ED is cost efficient (and cheaper than many may think). In the long term, given the faster and easier approach, ED also proves to be the better economic decision. You will be surprised by the savings that can be achieved. 
  5. A technology with comprehensive applications in many fields of research. Not only the pharmaceutical industry will benefit from the emergence of a dedicated electron diffractometer and an ED-based approach, but several other research fields as well: organic chemistry, polymorphism, material sciences, geological sciences, natural products, energy storage materials, material sciences, etc.
  6. Whereas a TEM needs to be shared with the majority of users that want to perform imaging experiments, an electron diffractometer will be solely dedicated to diffraction experiments.
  7. Ease-of-use, one of the biggest pluses. With a dedicated electron diffractometer, the operating procedure can be considerably simplified compared to a high-end transmission electron microscope (TEM). The trained crystallographer can do it on their own, without a TEM operator at their side.
  8. ED will deliver improved results. With an optimised rotational sample stage, the results of electron crystallography can be largely improved. Proper ED software will further improve scientific findings. Our experiments are closing the R value gaps, with R1 values below 10%. Read more here.
  9. A device as simple as possible. The electron diffractometer is fully optimized for diffraction. Its imaging functionalities (the major cost driver in full-blown TEMs) are reduced to the bare minimum required for crystallographic applications. Probably the best idea one could have.
  10. A dedicated electron diffractometer would be the crystallographers’ choice. Not only the optics of the electron diffractometer but also the perfect rotation and software are optimized for diffraction. Combined with extreme low-dose exposures, the sample will survive for longer periods of time, solving one of the biggest problems of EM at the present. An approach any experienced crystallographer will appreciate.

The ELDICO ED-1 device is dedicated solely to electron diffraction and delivers results of unprecedented quality for 3D ED data collection and is as such perfectly suited for demanding scientific applications. With a disruptive horizontal design and an innovative sample-handling mechanism, ELDICO ED-1 helps scientists enter the field of nano-crystallography and produce important structural information faster, with better quality and at lower cost.  With this addition, any crystallographic lab will be able to perform routine analysis on samples that have so far been considered prohibitive – including nanocrystalline powders, minute quantities and phase mixtures.
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ELDICO Scientific, The Electron Diffraction Company, is a Swiss hardware company founded 2019 and is located in Switzerland Innovation Park Innovaare at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), one of the world's leading research centers for natural and engineering sciences. ELDICO develops, produces and sells electron diffractometers for the analysis of solid compounds enabling industrial and scientific researchers to characterise hitherto unmeasurable nano-crystalline systems. So far conventional methods (X-ray) fail, because they require bigger crystal sizes, which are often difficult or even impossible to produce. With support of the Nano Argovia Programme and the Swiss Nanosience Insitute (SNI) the proof-of-concept was achieved in 2018 (ETH Zurich, C-CINA Basel) on scientifically and industrially relevant samples.