Look Ma, no crystals

David Sayre and co-workers have created the first diffraction images from noncrystalline samples, a feat that could revolutionize the imaging of a vast array of materials that cannot be crystallized, providing ultrahigh-resolution images of everything from cells to individual protein molecules. The first images are of an array of tiny gold dots with a resolution of 75 nanometers. That doesn’t match the resolution available from X-ray diffraction of crystalline samples, but it is better than the best optical microscopes. Generating enough diffraction data from a single molecule will require new Xray sources billions of times brighter than today’s.

R. F. Service, Science, Vol 285, July 1999.