Samples & Automounters

In this section, we describe sample requirements for the automounters.

  • Crystal samples for data collection at the CMCF should be prepared in compatible pins in Uni Pucks or SSRL-style cassettes.

Preparing Samples for the Robot

The automounters on beamlines 08B1-1 and 08ID-1 are available to users and should be used whenever possible. Remember to upload sample information to MxLIVE, following instructions in the Specifying Sample Information section.


The CMCF supports the Hampton CrystalCap Magnetic and CrystalCap Copper Magnetic pins. Hampton pins should be equipped with nylon cryo-loops which can be purchased through Hampton Research. Other compatible Hampton-style pins can be purchased from vendors such as MiTeGen, or Crystal Positioning Systems. The automounters require non-spine pins and an 18 mm pin height.

18 mm NON-SPINE pins are required when using the automounters. SPINE pins and plastic based pins are not compatible with the automounters and should not be used.

  • Ensure that pins and bases are in very good condition with no loose parts, excess glue or rust.
  • Choose new pins over old ones whenever possible.
  • Do not use the plastic "twist-type" bases.



The Stanford Automated Mounting System (SAM) accepts SSRL-style cassettes or Uni-Pucks. Each cassette can house up to 96 samples mounted on Hampton-style pins. Two cassettes fit inside a standard dry shipping dewar. For more details about cassettes, cassette tools and vendor information, see the SAM Hardware Page. Pictured to the right is a cassette and two Uni-Pucks.


Besides SSRL-style cassettes, the CMCF also supports the Universal Puck (Uni-Puck).  Each Uni-Puck can hold up to 16 samples mounted on Hampton-style pins. A shipping dewar typically holds 6 to 7 Uni-Pucks within a Uni-Puck holder. More information about the Uni-Puck Project can be found here. Please contact beamline staff to discuss borrowing Uni-Pucks to send samples to the CMCF.

NOTE: Hampton Research Uni-Pucks labeled below 200 (i.e., HR00199) are not compatible with the automounter. If you have one of these pucks, please contact Hampton Research to exchange it.

Please allow beamline staff to load cassettes and Uni-Pucks into the automounter for you.

Specifying Sample Information

When accessing Mail-In services or using the SAM automounter for automated screening, you need to specify details about the crystals contained in your containers. This may be accomplished through MxLIVE either by:

  • Specifying your information through the MxLIVE interfaces, or
  • Filling out a sample spreadsheet (see below) and uploading it to MxLIVE.

Filling out a Sample Spreadsheet

Download a blank spreadsheet or an example spreadsheet with sample data from the following links:

The spreadsheet has two worksheets labelled Crystals and Groups, which can be selected using the tabs at the bottom of your spreadsheet program.  Not all fields in the spreadsheet must be completed.  The fields that are required for Mail-In services are listed below, with fields required for a successful upload to MxLIVE or MxDC specified in bold.

Groups Tab - Define crystal groups.  Groups defined here will be available for selection when adding crystals.

  • Group (each crystal should belong to a group)
  • Type (select Native, SAD, or MAD from the drop-down menu)
  • Plan (select Just Collect, Collect First Good, etc.)
  • Priority
  • Edge (type of metal for SAD or MAD, if applicable)
  • Resolution (the required resolution)
  • Spacegroup (if known)
  • Unit Cell (if known)

Crystals Tab - Define individual samples.

  • Crystal (a unique name for the crystal, with no spaces or special characters)
  • Group (select one of your groups)
  • Container (an identifier for the cane, uni-puck, or cassette)
  • Container Type (select Cane, Uni-Puck, or Cassette)
  • Port (select a location): For canes, port 1 is at the bottom and port 6 is at the top.
  • Comment (any other special instructions)

Additional Tips:

  • Do not adjust the formatting of the sample template in any way when editing or saving your spreadsheet.
  • Crystal names must be unique and may not contain special characters or spaces.
  • You can specify up to 1000 groups and crystals in a single spreadsheet, including multiple containers and container types.
  • Do not include blank rows in your spreadsheet.
  • Only include sample information for real samples.  There is no need to specify information about empty loops included in the shipment.
  • Once filled out properly, your spreadsheet can be uploaded to MxLIVE, or to MxDC directly.

Video Tutorial

View in Full Browser Window