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Automated scanning capabilities have been added to the data acquisition software, JBluIce-EPICS, at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Cancer Institute Collaborative Access Team (GM/CA CAT) at the Advanced Photon Source. A `raster' feature enables sample centering via diffraction scanning over two-dimensional grids of simple rectangular or complex polygonal shape. The feature is used to locate crystals that are optically invisible owing to their small size or are visually obfuscated owing to properties of the sample mount. The raster feature is also used to identify the best-diffracting regions of large inhomogeneous crystals. Low-dose diffraction images taken at grid positions are automatically processed in real time to provide a quick quality ranking of potential data-collection sites. A `vector collect' feature mitigates the effects of radiation damage by scanning the sample along a user-defined three-dimensional vector during data collection to maximize the use of the crystal volume and the quality of the collected data. These features are integrated into the JBluIce-EPICS data acquisition software developed at GM/CA CAT where they are used in combination with a robust mini-beam of rapidly changeable diameter from 5 µm to 20 µm. The powerful software-hardware combination is being applied to challenging problems in structural biology.

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