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X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) provide intense (∼1012 photons per pulse) coherent X-rays with ultra-short (∼10−14 s) pulse lengths. X-rays of such an unprecedented nature have introduced new means of atomic scale structural investigations, and discoveries are still ongoing. Effective use of XFELs would be further accelerated on a highly adaptable platform where most of the new experiments can be realized. Introduced here is the multiple-application X-ray imaging chamber (MAXIC), which is able to carry out various single-pulse diffraction experiments including single-shot imaging, nanocrystallographic data acquisition and ultra-fast pump–probe scattering for specimens in solid, liquid and gas phases. The MAXIC established at the SPring-8 ångström compact free-electron laser (SACLA) has demonstrated successful applications in the aforementioned experiments, but is not limited to them. Also introduced are recent experiments on single-shot diffraction imaging of Au nanoparticles and serial crystallographic data collection of lysozyme crystals at SACLA.

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