Coherent X-ray diffraction imaging (CXDI) is a technique for visualizing the structures of non-crystalline particles with size in the submicrometer to micrometer range in material sciences and biology. In the structural analysis of CXDI, the electron density map of a specimen particle projected along the direction of the incident X-rays can be reconstructed only from the diffraction pattern by using phase-retrieval (PR) algorithms. However, in practice, the reconstruction, relying entirely on the computational procedure, sometimes fails because diffraction patterns miss the data in small-angle regions owing to the beam stop and saturation of the detector pixels, and are modified by Poisson noise in X-ray detection. To date, X-ray free-electron lasers have allowed us to collect a large number of diffraction patterns within a short period of time. Therefore, the reconstruction of correct electron density maps is the bottleneck for efficiently conducting structure analyses of non-crystalline particles. To automatically address the correctness of retrieved electron density maps, a data analysis protocol to extract the most probable electron density maps from a set of maps retrieved from 1000 different random seeds for a single diffraction pattern is proposed. Through monitoring the variations of the phase values during PR calculations, the tendency for the PR calculations to succeed when the retrieved phase sets converged on a certain value was found. On the other hand, if the phase set was in persistent variation, the PR calculation tended to fail to yield the correct electron density map. To quantify this tendency, here a figure of merit for the variation of the phase values during PR calculation is introduced. In addition, a PR protocol to evaluate the similarity between a map of the highest figure of merit and other independently reconstructed maps is proposed. The protocol is implemented and practically examined in the structure analyses for diffraction patterns from aggregates of gold colloidal particles. Furthermore, the feasibility of the protocol in the structure analysis of organelles from biological cells is examined.A protocol for objectively and automatically identifying the most probable electron density map from phase-retrieval calculations in coherent X-ray diffraction imaging is proposed.
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