Figure 1: FlexED8 EdgeDewar sample changer shown on BM14.
Figure 2: MiniSpine 36 slots puck and MiniSpine sample holder in a robot gripper.
The Cipriani team develops instruments and methods for X-ray scattering experiments and works with industry to make them available to scientists worldwide.
Previous and current research
The core activity of our team is to develop instruments and methods for X-ray scattering experiments. The CrystalDirect™ harvester jointly conceived with the Márquez team is now in routine use at the High Throughput Crystallisation lab: crystals grown in CrystalDirect plates can be marked remotely using a web service and automatically mounted onto Spine pins. The machine is particularly suitable for harvesting micro-crystals, fragile crystals, as well as batches of micro-crystals for serial data collection.
A second harvester is being coupled with a FlexED3 cryo-storage system based on our Flex sample changer technology. With an initial capacity of three pucks, the system will perform up to 50 harvestings in less than an hour with minimal user intervention. The intrinsic low background of the CrystalDirect plates makes them ideal for in situ X-ray data collection, such as like that offered at the EMBL/ESRF BM14 beamline, the ESRF ID30B beamline, and the EMBL@PETRA-III P14 micro-focus beamline.
Evaluation kits were distributed to assess the design of the new miniSpine sample holder proposed as possible future European standard (Figure 1). The FlexED8 Edge Dewar sample changer installed on BM14 opens the beamline to UniPucks and is compatible with miniSpine (Figure 2). Additional test beamlines will be equipped with miniSpine compatible robotics, involving industrial partners. ID30B is equipped with a MD2s Diffractometer and a FlexHCD sample changer, and can process crystals in situ or frozen stored in SC3 pucks or in UniPucks. All these developments include contributions from the Márquez and McCarthy teams, the Schneider group, and the ESRF Structural Biology group. Supported by EMBLEM, most of our instruments are available to the scientific community worldwide.
Future projects and goals
Next year a fully automated harvesting service based on the new CrystalDirect harvester and FlexED3 sample cryo-storage unit will be available at the HTX lab. A Harvesting/data collection pipeline will be evaluated at BM14 using a harvester coupled to the FlexED8 sample changer.
Our main future challenge will be to exploit the new beam characteristics of the future ESRF-EBS MX beamlines. Sample delivery will be a central question and serial crystallography the rule. To prepare for this we will develop a new MD3 diffractometer optimised for high speed rastered data collection as part of the ESRF ID23-2 micro-focus upgrade. We will also duplicate the FlexHCD sample changers to provide flexible robotics for all the MX beamlines.