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A new strategy is presented to reduce primary X-ray damage in macromolecular crystallography. The strategy is based on separating the diffracting and damaged regions as much as feasible. The source of the radiation damage to macromol­ecular crystals is from two primary mechanisms: the direct excitations of electrons by absorption, and inelastic scattering of the X-rays. The first produces photoelectrons with their accompanying Auger electrons from relaxation of the core hole and the second creates Compton electrons. The properties of these two mechanisms and calculations of primary X-­ray damage quantify how to modify the spatial distribution of X-rays to reduce the deleterious effects of radiation damage. By focusing the incident X-rays into vertical stripes, it is estimated that the survival (the time during which quality diffraction data can be obtained with a given X-ray flux) of large crystals can be increased by at least a factor of 1.6, while for very small platelet crystals the survival can be increased by up to a factor of 14.

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