Finally here: World's first experience centre for electron diffraction launched in Basel


As an application lab for electron crystallography starts operations for users from industry and science, the world's first electron diffractometer, the ELDICO ED-1, offers measurement results of unprecedented quality for the pharmaceutical, electromobility and new materials sectors. For the inaugural event, distinguished representatives of academic and industrial crystallography in Europe gathered in Basel for a scientific panel discussion. Under the title "The Beauty of the Small: Accelerating R&D in Pharma and beyond," the panelists explored the current state and future possibilities of ED.

Distinguished researchers and industry leaders from organizations like Idorsia, leadXpro, Max-Planck-Institute, teraCrystal, BASF and University of Warsaw shared their view on electron diffraction and thus introduced us to electron crystallography and how new analytical processes can help with previously inaccessible crystalline solids (e.g. due to crystals with sizes down to 10 nanometres).

The message is clear. As an analytical technique, electron diffraction provides transformative potential for many industries, of which, first and foremost, pharma.

Presented use cases spanned from pre-clinical and clinical research, as well as IP management and applications in fundamental academic research.

Practical demonstration sessions on ELDICO’s ED-1, the first dedicated electron diffractometer, as well as an exquisite Apéro riche featuring molecular cuisine concepts framed the scientific presentations.

The Experience Center for Electron Diffraction has now started operations in Basel-Allschwil. The Experience Center's long-term contractual customers include the companies Hoffmann-LaRoche, Idorsia, the German Boehringer-Ingelheim and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute (SNI). In addition, the Experience Center is open to other users with a broad portfolio of nano-crystallographic services. Interested customers can send in material samples, which will be processed quickly and reliably by scientific staff.

'With the Experience Center, we are making it easier for crystallographers from the pharmaceutical and other industries to get started with nanocrystallography and enable them to deliver the structural information that is important for academic and commercial research faster, in better quality and at a competitive price. The ELDICO ED-1 installed in Basel delivers excellent analytical results even for challenging organic compounds,' says Dr. Eric Hovestreydt, founder and Chief Commercial Officer of ELDICO Scientific. This allows samples to be analyzed that were previously too small and therefore inaccessible for crystallographic analysis.

ELDICO’s ED-1 is a novel instrument that combines an electron beam of radically simplified design with a goniometer, precise down to the sub-micrometer level. Building on proven approaches from X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy, the new tool combines the best of these worlds, enabling diffraction experiments at the nano-scale in an easy-to-install, user-friendly device.

The device is a smart combination of a five-axis, 360° rotation, submicrometer-precise goniometer and a 160 keV electron beam with specifically designed optics. ELDICO’s ED-1 has Dectris inside: the powerful QUADRO is the most proven detector that is well suited for electrons.

'We have tailored our system to strictly adhere to the most essential specifications – this is why we can claim ELDICO ED-1 is made ‘by crystallographers, for crystallographers', says Eric Hovestreydt.

With its superior features, the device outperforms any other method used for nano-sized samples. The diffractometer is designed to measure samples in the range from 10 to 1,000 nm and is targeted to provide resolution of up to 0.84 Å with at least 60-70% complete datasets having an Rint<20%. This data typically allows for structure solution and refinement down to R1 values of 10% in 75% of cases, with unit cell determination as accurate as 1:1,000.

Electron diffraction is a powerful analytical technique that provides the basis for innovation in many industries. Applications range from academic crystallography to large and fast-growing industries such as pharmaceuticals, battery research and advanced materials. The pharmaceutical industry in particular is enabled to accelerate its research and development.

Check experimental data on solved structures here

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ELDICO Scientific AG (The Electron Diffraction Company) is a Swiss technology and service company founded in 2019 and based in the Switzerland Innovation Park Innovaare at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), a world-leading research institute for natural sciences and engineering. ELDICO develops, manufactures and commercializes electron diffractometers , i.e. novel analytical instruments for electron based crystallography, enabling to investigate nano-crystalline samples. ELDICO will launch the first instrument specifically designed for nano-crystallographic investigations. Proof-of-concept was achieved in 2018 (ETH Zurich, C-CINA Basel) as part of a Nano-Argovia project of the Swiss Nanoscience Institute (SNI). It was published in 2018 and awarded Top 5 "Breakthrough of the Year 2018" by the leading science magazine SCIENCE. In 2020 among other public recognitions on Swiss and EU level, ELDICO took 2nd place in the prestigious Pioneer Prize awarded by Technopark Zurich and the Zürcher Kantonalbank (ZKB). ELDICO’s clients are industrial and academic researchers in large and fast growing industries such as the pharmaceutical industry, the electromobility, and the advanced materials / MOF sector. The company partners with leading engineering companies and component suppliers among Dectris, Excillum and SmarAct to deliver superior performance.