Rapid localized crystallization of lysozyme by laser trapping†
Confining protein crystallization to a millimetre size was achieved within 0.5 h after stopping 1 h intense trapping laser irradiation, which shows excellent performance in spatial and temporal controllability compared to spontaneous nucleation. A continuous-wave near-infrared laser beam is tightly focused into a glass/solution interfacial layer of a supersaturated buffer solution of hen egg-white lysozyme (HEWL). The crystallization is not observed during laser trapping, but initiated by stopping the laser irradiation. The generated crystals are localized densely in a circular area with a diameter of a few millimetres around the focal spot and show specific directions of the optical axes of the HEWL crystals. To interpret this unique crystallization, we propose a mechanism that nucleation and the subsequent growth take place in a highly concentrated domain consisting of HEWL liquid-like clusters after turning off laser trapping.