For several decades, X-ray crystallography has been the dominant technique to solve the three-dimensional (3D) structure of biological macromolecules at atomic resolution. Structures of proteins, protein complexes and the machinery of entire biological reaction pathways have been elucidated, leading to numerous breakthroughs in our understanding of molecular architecture and function. However, not every protein complex crystallizes, a necessary condition for investigation using these methods.

 Single particle diffractive imaging data from Rice Dwarf Virus (RDV) were recorded using the Coherent X-ray Imaging (CXI) instrument at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). RDV was chosen as it is a well-characterized model system, useful for proof-of-principle experiments, system optimization and algorithm development. RDV, an icosahedral virus of about 70 nm in diameter, was aerosolized and injected into the approximately 0.1 μm diameter focused hard X-ray beam at the CXI instrument of LCLS. Diffraction patterns from RDV with signal to 5.9 Ångström were recorded. The diffraction data are available through the Coherent X-ray Imaging Data Bank (CXIDB) as a resource for algorithm development, the contents of which are described here.

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