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Scattering Methods in Molecular Biophysics

Module PH2011

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Module version of SS 2017 (current)

There are historic module descriptions of this module. A module description is valid until replaced by a newer one.

Whether the module’s courses are offered during a specific semester is listed in the section Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature below.

available module versions
SS 2017SS 2011

Basic Information

PH2011 is a semester module in English or German language at Master’s level which is offered every semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Focus Area Imaging in M.Sc. Biomedical Engineering and Medical Physics

If not stated otherwise for export to a non-physics program the student workload is given in the following table.

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
150 h 60 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2011 is Klaus Achterhold.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


  1. Elastic X-ray scattering at an electron, atom, molecule and protein crystal

  2. The Phase problem of X-ray structure analysis and how to solve it

  3. Static structure distribution and dynamics of biomolecules

  4. Diffuse scattering

  5. Time resolved X-ray structure determination with the Laue method

  6. Elastic and inelastic neutron scattering

  7. Small angle scattering

  8. Generation and detection of X-rays and neutrons

Learning Outcome

After successful participation in this module, the students master crystal structure analysis with X-rays and neutrons as complementary methods. For them, reciprocal space is a tool for simple and fast visualization of scattering processes. The students understand the importance of the energy resolution of a scattering method, the difference between static structure distribution and dynamic of the molecule.


There are no prerequisites required exceeding the admission requirements for the Master's programme.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

VU 4 Molecular Biophysics: Scattering Methods in Biophysics Achterhold, K. singular or moved dates
and dates in groups

Learning and Teaching Methods

Within the lecture it is explained, how the three-dimensional structure of biomolecules like proteins or DNA can be obtained by the coherent scattering of X-rays and neutrons. The generation of X-rays and neutrons, their specific interaction with the sample and their detection will be discussed. An active participation of the students in the form of questions, comments and discussions is very welcome. The acquired knowledge is deepened by exercises in which the learned is applied in the form of illustrative calculations.


The contents of the course will be presented as PowerPoint slides. Supplements are either written directly into the slides or onto the whiteboard. A pdf version of the content without the supplements is available on Moodle shortly before the start of each lecture.

Powerpoint presentation; Whiteboard; Script; Lab visit; Exercises


  • Tilman Butz
    Fourier Transformation for Pedestrians, Springer Publishing, 2015
  • Jan Drenth
    Principles of X-ray protein crystallography, Springer Publishing, 2007
  • Jens Als-Nielsen & Des McMorrow
    Elements of Modern X-ray Physics (2nd ed.), Wiley, 2011

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

There will be an oral exam of 25 minutes duration. Therein the achievement of the competencies given in section learning outcome is tested exemplarily at least to the given cognition level using comprehension questions.

For example an assignment in the exam might be:

  • • Sketch the setup of an undulator/wiggler and explain the spectra of the emitted synchrotron radiation.
  • • What is the phase problem of X-ray structure analysis and how can it be solved?
  • • What can be achieved by the deuteration in neutron structure analysis?

In the exam no learning aids are permitted.

Participation in the exercise classes is strongly recommended since the exercises prepare for the problems of the exam and rehearse the specific competencies.

Exam Repetition

The exam may be repeated at the end of the semester.

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