Sample holders

Canisters (canes and baskets)


Bar code reader


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Sample holders (vials, magnetic bases and pins)

From November 2007 only 2 sample holder systems (see below) will be accepted on the ESRF MX beamlines. It will no longer be possible to accommodate samples mounted with plastic bases (i.e. Hampton CrystalCaps and similar) or those mounted in Oxford-style top-hat systems.

In any case you are strongly recommended to bring an empty loop with your samples to prepare the sample environment correctly on the beamline before you start working on your precious samples.

  • EMBL/ESRF Sample Changer Vials

In order to be compatible with the EMBL/ESRF sample changer which is now installed on all our beamlines, you must use the SPINE standard sample holders and vials. Its design is based on the Hampton CrystalCap Magnetic™ and vial system with 22mm fixed sample holder length (18mm pins) and presents a 10 character identification code (data matrix on the base of the caps and in clear human readable text near the data matrix or on the rim of the cap).

SPINE sample holders and vials can be obtained from either Molecular Dimensions Limited (bottom figure below) or Hampton Research (top figure below)


Hampton vialsHampton SPINE bases


MD-CryoCaps---CryoVial-resize400x300.jpg  MD-CryoCaps.jpg


If you want to use the sample changers make sure your vials are not damaged (cracked vials, metal disk missing at the tip of the vial ...)



cracked vial

  • Standard holders (commercially available today) for manual sample mounting
We recommend you to use the Hampton CrystalCap Magnetic™ and vial system with 22mm fixed sample holder length (18mm pins). We can also accomodate pins between 17mm to 28mm by playing with various goniometer heads.

crystal cap


Sample organisation in the transport dewar (dry shipper of the CP100 type):

  • Stored on canes (comercially available today)

In order to minimise damage of the crystals upon transport we recommend you to store the vials on 5 vial-cryocanes made of aluminium and offering a base tab for proper seating of the vials (see picture below). We recommend you to surround the cryocanes with plastic sleeves which maintain the samples in place within the canes even upon big shocks during transport.

cryocane in sleeve


The canes are directly loaded in the internal canister of the dry shipper.

  • Stored in baskets compatible with the EMBL/ESRF sample changer (available at MDL) OR UNIPUCKS
Beamline EMBL puck UNIPUCK
ID23-1 yes yes
ID23-2 NO yes
ID29 yes yes
ID30A3 yes yes
ID30B yes yes


EMBL baskets hold 10 SPINE sample holders/vials, are identified with a data matrix as well as a human readable code. 5 of them fit in a modified CP100 transport dewar canister (see image bellow). Kits containing a modified CP100 canister, 5 baskets, 1 vial pusher for sample transfer and 1 clamp are sold by MDL.



SC basket5Baskets in canister

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A dry-transporter/shipper must be used to transport the samples safely. The most common one is the Taylor-Wharton CP100 dry shipper (see these articles for more details on temperature measurements: paper1, paper2)


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2D bar code automatic reader

In order to describe your shipment content in the ISPYB database, you can inspect the bar codes of the pin basis by eye and enter them manually on the ISPYB web interface. Another faster and more reliable way is to use a 2D-bar code reader. We have tested several and we are very happy with the FOCUS MS-1690-38: you can plug it directly to any computer running windows or linux, via the supplied USB cable. You then need to point your mouse in the field of ISPYB where the bar code should be entered and read your bar code with the gun.

Districode from which we ordered that equipment has provided us with a quotation and client opening account letter a to be filled in if you wish to order it from them.


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