Since modern crystallography dawned with X-ray diffraction experiments on crystals by Max von Laue in 1912 and William and Lawrence Bragg (a father-and-son team) in 1913, and was recognized by Nobel prizes in physics for von Laue in 1914 and the Braggs in 1915, the discipline has informed almost every branch of the natural sciences. This Nature special issue explores the highlights, evolution and future of the field. And in July 2014, NPG will publish Nature Milestones: Crystallography to further celebrate the International Year of Crystallography.
Image credit: Viktor Koen (inset of X-ray diffraction pattern of crystallised 3Clpro by Jeff Dahl)
Synchrotrons have long been the preferred X-ray sources for crystallography, but competition has arrived with the advent of X-ray free-electron lasers. A synchrotron expert and an advocate of free-electron lasers discuss the prospects of their respective source types for applications in structural biology.