AUBURN HILLS, Mich.—Rigaku Innovative Technologies Inc., a subsidiary of The Woodlands, Texas-based Rigaku Americas Corp., has teamed up with longtime collaborator PANalytical B.V., in Almelo, The Netherlands, to jointly develop a new high-brilliance micro-focus X-ray source.
This new source is a complete, turnkey X-ray beam module, consisting of a high-performance X-ray optic designed and manufactured by Rigaku and generator from PANalytical. Applications range widely, from determining protein structures critical for the mapping of the human genome to determining nanoparticle size distributions and shape functions for drug delivery mechanisms and into many non-pharmaceutical areas as well, such as semiconductors and environmental science.
"Unlike a medical X-ray, with a broad beam, this technology gives you a beam no larger than a human hair, and the divergence is small, thus giving you better quality results," says Tom McNulty, director of Rigaku America's materials science business unit. "These types of instruments are used for protein crystallography work at all kinds of drug companies and biochemistry departments where people are trying to develop new drugs, improve old ones and other types of pharmaceutical work."
He notes that rotating anode technology, which provides an even better quality X-ray beam, is also available through Rigaku, but this new X-ray source helps balance the issues of quality and price for end-users.
"You still get a very high-quality beam, but at a lower cost and with fewer maintenance issues, so we see this being able to put protein crystallography technology into the hands of more researchers," McNulty says.
Although Rigaku covers a wide range of industrial and research applications, biotech is clearly a priority with this kind of technology, with Rigaku Chairman Hikaru P. Shimura noting on the company's Web site that "we are really focusing our energies and attention on several key areas, including biotechnology. And within biotechnology, we are focusing on structural genomics, which is, essentially, the high-throughput determination of protein structures."
The new source provides up to twice the usable X-ray flux when compared to currently available sealed-tube micro-focus source technology, reportedly offering excellent stability of spot size, spot position and intensity. This most recent collaboration between Rigaku and PANalytical follows a long history of product integration between the two companies for both X-ray diffraction and X-ray fluorescence systems dating back to 1984.
One of Rigaku's core competencies has always been the accurate manufacturing of X-ray optical modules and rotating anode X-ray generators, notes Catherine Klein, senior VP for Rigaku Americas Corp., whereas PANalytical has a long history in the development of sealed-tube X-ray sources.