SonicC Information

SONICC (Second Order Nonlinear Imaging of Chiral Crystals) is a commercial technology marketed by Formulatrix, Inc. The basis for the SONICC process is the generation of second-order harmonic light when chiral crystals are irradiated by an ultrafast laser source that is rapidly scanning across a drop by means of piezo-driven micro-mirrors. Incident light can be effectively filtered away from the emergent second-harmonic light (which has twice the frequency of the incident light!) - and the resulting pure second-harmonic radiation can be detected using single-channel detectors such as avalanche diodes or photomultipliers. SONICC observation is permitted for all chiral protein crystals with the exception of a very rare cubic gyroidal class (less than 0.01% of all observed protein crystals so far). Racemic crystals are SONICC-negative, however there are only a couple of known examples of racemic protein crystals to-date, and they represent exceptional efforts needed to synthesize all-D enantiomeric protein molecules.

Some small molecule/detergent crystals are unfortunately SONICC-positive. To enhance the discrimination of true protein crystals from chiral small molecule crystals we employ UV-fluorescence (Trp residues) and bright-field imaging. Together, these three methods provide near-perfect identification of microcrystals obscured by amorphous precipitate or buried within LCP (Lipidic Cubic Phase).

Take a look at this free article describing the SONICC science and process, if you are interested in learning more about this fascinating and effective method for protein crystal imaging.

Within the HarkerBIO gene-to-structure pipeline, we use  SONICC imaging to detect protein crystals at the four-week mark post-setup. In our experience, the SONICC technology delivers clear and consistently positive results in thousands of cases studied to date. The SONICC technology is clearly able to detect crystallization hits that were missed by manual inspection of visible light images, enhancing our overall success rate at discovery and optimization of difficult crystals.

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