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BioSAXS - Sample changer robot

BioSAXSTM is an automatic sample changer designed to support high-throughput biological SAXS experiments.

It gives the possibility to automatically transfer the samples from a storage unit to an exposure unit in a highly controlled environment.

Fully-automated device for high throughput workflow

BioSAXS is a highly optimized sample changer robot working with standard SBS well plates:

“…, the operation of the Sample Changer was proven to be highly reliable: at the EMBL@PETRA-III P12 beamline over 80 000 samples were loaded and measured during 2013, with only five failures owing to various reasons, corresponding to a failure rate of below 0.01%.” (Adam Round, 2014)

Highly Controllable Sample Environment

The BioSAXS automatic sample changer is entirely designed for highly controlled SAXS experiments:

Sample Storage Unit

The temperature regulated sample storage slot can receive numerous types of sample holders: 96-well and deep-well SBS microplates, strips of wells (4 x 8 wells Eppendorf strips) and individual wells (4 x 3 individual 1.5 mL wells).

Furthermore, it is possible to fit the BioSAXS automatic sample changer for another type of sample holder. Please contact us to estimate the technical possibilities.

The sample holders can be installed or removed by opening the top cover of the BioSAXS Sample Changer Robot.

Sample Exposure Unit

The Sample Exposure Unit (SEU) is composed of an exposure cell housing, a video microscope and a Pipetting System.

The Exposure Cell housing is a temperature regulated and vacuum-tight chamber that hosts the exposure cell, a quartz capillary. The capillary is mounted in a metallic support, the so-called capillary pod. The capillary pod can be exchanged within minutes, making the Sample Exposure Unit maintenance friendly.

The video microscope is associated with a lighting system that allows capillary and sample visualization. The video microscope images are exploited by the control software for most of the automated functions and calibrations; it also offers direct sample visualization to the user.

The sample transfer

The liquid samples are kept inside the temperature controlled sample storage container (violet).

It moves horizontally (red arrows) and positions under the syringe (i.e. pipetting needle) for sample loading. The robot automatically fits the syringe to the type of sample holder used. The user just has to launch the sample loading process.

After sample disposal the cleaning station (green) moves up in order to clean the syringe, the capillary and any of the connecting tubing.

During the sample loading process the liquid sample passes through the syringe (yellow) and very short tubing (green) before arriving in the exposure head (violet). The capillary and its content are visualized in-situ by means of the video microscope (black).

BioSAXS sample changer robot: detail system

Additional Functionalities

Post-exposure sample recovery

After data collection the irradiated sample is automatically send to the sample disposal container. However, BioSAXS can also be set to recover the sample and bring it back to the sample storage unit.Thus, the user can recover the sample to its initial place or in any other of the available sample wells. A direct consequence of the sample recovery functionality is the possibility of in situ sample mixing.

In situ sample mixing

“The Sample Changer can realize the transfer of a given volume of solution from one well to another. If the destination well already contains solution then the depth of liquid inside is detected. To improve mixing of two liquids, the needle moves up through the liquid in the destination well while dispensing the solution. Thorough mixing can be programed, typically after a transfer, by pipetting a small volume into the needle and back to the well a requested number of times.” (Adam Round, 2014)

Retractable Sample Exposure Unit

BioSAXS can be equipped with a retractable SAXS/WAXS Sample Exposure Unit. This is interesting if users want to use other types of sample supports, e.g. microfluidic plates.

Technical specifications:

BioSAXS Sample changer robot: technical features

Related publications:

Round et al.  BioSAXS Sample Changer, Acta Cryst. (2015). D71, 67–75


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