The Stanford Automated Mounting system (SAM)

An automated system for mounting and dismounting crystals has been implemented at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL). The system is compatible with crystals at cryogenic temperatures. More recently at SSRL beam line 12-1 a new program using samples room-temperature has been released. The system is based on a small industrial robot and compact cylindrical cassettes, each holding up to 96 crystals mounted on Hampton Research sample pins.   A dispensing dewar holds up to three cassettes (or 288 sample mounts) in liquid nitrogen adjacent to the beamline goniometer. Alternatively, the dewar can hold 12 uni-pucks (or 192 sample mounts) or a combination of cassettes and uni-pucks. The robot uses a permanent magnet tool to extract samples from, and insert samples into a cassette (or uni-puck), and a cryo-tong tool to transfer them to and from the beamline goniometer.  The hardware control system software used to control the robot is Blu-Ice/DCS.  The system as installed at SSRL BL9-2 is shown below.

Videos of the operation of the upgraded SAM system (MPEG-4 | FLV) and the original SAM system (MPEG-4 | FLV) are available for download. 

A cassette loading kit containing the tools necessary to safely and conveniently load samples into SSRL cassettes has been developed and distributed to SAM users.  For easy shipping and storage, the cassette fits inside several popular dry-shippers and long-term storage dewars.  Two cassettes fit within the standard MVE model SC 4/2V dry-shipping dewar (recommended).  Other shipping dewars that can be used include the Taylor Wharton CP100 or CX100 and the International Cryogenics IC-7VS.  Up to 20 sample cassettes can be conveniently stored in a Taylor-Wharton HC-35 high-capacity storage refrigerator.

More recently SAM-compatible crystallization plates (SAM-CCPs) have been developed that hold 10 sample mounts at controlled humidity conditions. A temperature controlled shipping box holds 6 SAM-CCPs and a storage shelf at the beamline, holds 5 SAM-CCPs.

Useful Links:

Robotic Sample Handling Information Forum

Sample cassette containing 96 hampton-style sample pins. 

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