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The program RADDOSE is widely used to compute the dose absorbed by a macromolecular crystal during an X-ray diffraction experiment. A number of factors affect the absorbed dose, including the incident X-ray flux density, the photon energy and the composition of the macromolecule and of the buffer in the crystal. An experimental dose limit for macromolecular crystallography (MX) of 30 MGy at 100 K has been reported, beyond which the biological information obtained may be compromised. Thus, for the planning of an optimized diffraction experiment the estimation of dose has become an additional tool. A number of approximations were made in the original version of RADDOSE. Recently, the code has been modified in order to take into account fluorescent X-ray escape from the crystal (version 2) and the inclusion of incoherent (Compton) scattering into the dose calculation is now reported (version 3). The Compton cross-section, although negligible at the energies currently commonly used in MX, should be considered in dose calculations for incident energies above 20 keV. Calculations using version 3 of RADDOSE reinforce previous studies that predict a reduction in the absorbed dose when data are collected at higher energies compared with data collected at 12.4 keV. Hence, a longer irradiation lifetime for the sample can be achieved at these higher energies but this is at the cost of lower diffraction intensities. The parameter 'diffraction-dose efficiency', which is the diffracted intensity per absorbed dose, is revisited in an attempt to investigate the benefits and pitfalls of data collection using higher and lower energy radiation, particularly for thin crystals.

Original publication




Journal article


Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr

Publication Date





381 - 388


Carrier Proteins, Crystallography, X-Ray, Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation, Humans