A Comparison of Structure Determination of Small Organic Molecules by 3D Electron Diffraction at Cryogenic and Room Temperature

3D electron diffraction (3D ED), also known as micro-crystal electron diffraction (MicroED), is a rapid, accurate, and robust method for structure determination of submicron-sized crystals. 3D ED has mainly been applied in material science until 2013, when MicroED was developed for studying macromolecular crystals. MicroED was considered as a cryo-electron microscopy method, as MicroED data collection is usually carried out in cryogenic conditions. As a result, some researchers may consider that 3D ED/MicroED data collection on crystals of small organic molecules can only be performed in cryogenic conditions. In this work, we determined the structure for sucrose and azobenzene tetracarboxylic acid (H4ABTC). The structure of H4ABTC is the first crystal structure ever reported for this molecule. We compared data quality and structure accuracy among datasets collected under cryogenic conditions and room temperature. With the improvement in data quality by data merging, it is possible to reveal hydrogen atom positions in small organic molecule structures under both temperature conditions. The experimental results showed that, if the sample is stable in the vacuum environment of a transmission electron microscope (TEM), the data quality of datasets collected under room temperature is at least as good as data collected under cryogenic conditions according to various indicators (resolution, I/σ(I), CC1/2 (%), R1, Rint, ADRA)


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