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Cryocooling is a technique routinely used to mitigate the effects of secondary radiation damage on macromolecules during X-ray data collection. Energy from the X-ray beam absorbed by the sample raises the temperature of the sample. How large is the temperature increase and does this reduce the effectiveness of cryocooling? Sample heating by the X-ray beam has been measured non-invasively for the first time by means of thermal imaging. Specifically, the temperature rise of 1 mm and 2 mm glass spheres (sample surrogates) exposed to an intense synchrotron X-ray beam and cooled in a laminar flow of nitrogen gas is experimentally measured. For the typical sample sizes, photon energies, fluxes, flux densities and exposure times used for macromolecular crystallographic data collection at third-generation synchrotron radiation sources and with the sample accurately centered in the cryostream, the heating by the X-ray beam is only a few degrees. This is not sufficient to raise the sample above the amorphous-ice/crystalline-ice transition temperature and, if the cryostream cools the sample to 100 K, not even enough to significantly enhance radiation damage from secondary effects.

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