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The possibility of imaging single proteins constitutes an exciting challenge for X-ray lasers. Despite encouraging results on large particles, imaging small particles has proven to be difficult for two reasons: not quite high enough pulse intensity from currently available X-ray lasers and, as we demonstrate here, contamination of the aerosolised molecules by non-volatile contaminants in the solution. The amount of contamination on the sample depends on the initial droplet-size during aerosolisation. Here we show that with our electrospray injector we can decrease the size of aerosol droplets and demonstrate virtually contaminant-free sample delivery of organelles, small virions, and proteins. The results presented here, together with the increased performance of next generation X-ray lasers, constitute an important stepping stone towards the ultimate goal of protein structure determination from imaging at room temperature and high temporal resolution.

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    • In biophysics: 1,390 out of 4,443
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