Comparative study of conventional and synchrotron X-ray electron densities on molecular crystals

Emilie S Vosegaard, Jakob V Ahlburg, Lennard Krause, Bo B Iversen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Five different electron density datasets obtained from conventional and synchrotron single crystal X-ray diffraction experiments are compared. The general aim of the study is to investigate the quality of data for electron density analysis from current state-of-the-art conventional sources, and to see how the data perform in comparison with high-quality synchrotron data. A molecular crystal of melamine was selected as the test compound due to its ability to form excellent single crystals, the light atom content, and an advantageous suitability factor of 3.6 for electron density modeling. These features make melamine an optimal system for conventional X-ray diffractometers since the inherent advantages of synchrotron sources such as short wavelength and high intensity are less critical in this case. Data were obtained at 100 K from new in-house diffractometers Rigaku Synergy-S (Mo and Ag source, HyPix100 detector) and Stoe Stadivari (Mo source, EIGER2 1M CdTe detector), and an older Oxford Diffraction Supernova (Mo source, Atlas CCD detector). The synchrotron data were obtained at 25 K from BL02B1 beamline at SPring-8 in Japan (λ = 0.2480 Å, Pilatus3 X 1M CdTe detector). The five datasets were compared on general quality parameters such as resolution, ⟨I/σ⟩, redundancy and R factors, as well as the more model specific fractal dimension plot and residual density maps. Comparison of the extracted electron densities reveals that all datasets can provide reliable multipole models, which overall convey similar chemical information. However, the new laboratory X-ray diffractometers with advanced pixel detector technology clearly measure data with significantly less noise and much higher reliability giving densities of higher quality, compared to the older instrument. The synchrotron data have higher resolution and lower measurement temperature, and they allow for finer details to be modeled (e.g. hydrogen κ parameters).

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa crystallographica Section B, Structural science, crystal engineering and materials
IssuePart 5
Pages (from-to)380-391
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • data quality
  • electron density
  • molecular crystal
  • single crystal X-ray diffraction


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