Reliable sample delivery is essential to biological imaging using X-ray Free Electron Lasers (XFELs). Continuous injection using the Gas Dynamic Virtual Nozzle (GDVN) has proven valuable, particularly for time-resolved studies. However, many important aspects of GDVN functionality have yet to be thoroughly understood and/or refined due to fabrication limitations. We report the application of 2-photon polymerization as a form of high-resolution 3D printing to fabricate high-fidelity GDVNs with submicron resolution.

This technique allows rapid prototyping of a wide range of different types of nozzles from standard CAD drawings and optimization of crucial dimensions for optimal performance. Three nozzles were tested with pure water to determine general nozzle performance and reproducibility, with nearly reproducible off-axis jetting being the result. X-ray tomography and index matching were successfully used to evaluate the interior nozzle structures and identify the cause of off-axis jetting. Subsequent refinements to fabrication resulted in straight jetting. A performance test of printed nozzles at an XFEL provided high quality femtosecond diffraction patterns.

Full article available here