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Distinguished iNANO Lecture by Professor Xiaodong Zou, Stockholm University

Emerging electron diffraction techniques in crystallography – from ab initio structure determination to high-throughput phase analysis

Info about event


Friday 26 May 2023,  at 10:15 - 11:00


iNANO AUD (1593-012)


Professor Mingdong Dong (dong@inano.au.dk)

Professor Xiaodong Zou, Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

Emerging electron diffraction techniques in crystallography – from ab initio structure determination to high-throughput phase analysis

X-ray crystallography is currently the most important technique for determination of 3D crystal structures, but requires large single crystals. Electron crystallography has unique advantages in studying nano-sized crystals that are too small for single crystal X-ray diffraction1.

During the past decade, three-dimensional electron diffraction (3D ED)2 and serial electron diffraction (SerialED)3 have been developed for studying nano-sized materials, which made important impacts in structural analysis and development of new materials. In this talk, I will present the 3D ED and SerialED techniques developed in my group and demonstrate their applications in studying various types of crystals, from inorganic porous materials to organic pharmaceuticals and proteins4. I will demonstrate that high-throughput automated data collection and data analysis make it possible not only for studying extremely beam-sensitive crystals, but also for phase analysis and for detection of minor phases invisible by X-ray diffraction5. Fine structural features such as hydrogen positions, disorders and linker motions in MOFs could by identified.

The developments of new 3D ED and SerialED techniques have revolutionized crystallography, and can provide new opportunities for discovering novel structures and materials, and exploring their properties and applications.


  1. X. Zou, S. Hovmöller,P. Oleynikov, Electron crystallography - Electron microscopy and electron diffraction, IUCr texts on crystallography 16, Oxford University Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0-19-958020-0.
  2. M. O. Cichocka, J. Ångström, B. Wang, X. Zou, S. Smeets, High-throughput continuous rotation electron diffraction data acquisition via software automation. J. Appl. Cryst. 2018, 51, 1652.
  3. S. Smeets, X. Zou, W. Wan, Serial electron crystallography for structure determination and phase analysis of nanocrystalline materials, J. Appl. Cryst. 2018, 51, 1262.
  4. M. Lightowler, S. Li, X. Ou, X. Zou, M. Lu, H. Xu, Indomethacin polymorph δ revealed to be two plastically bendable crystal forms by 3D electron diffraction: correcting a 47-year-old misunderstanding, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2022, 61, e202114985.
  5. Y. Luo, B. Wang, S. Smeets, J. Sun, W. Yang, X. Zou, Exploring polycrystalline materials: high-throughput phase elucidation using serial rotation electron diffraction, Nat. Chem. 2023, 15, 483.