Automated Acoustic Levitation Sample Delivery for Multiple Synchrotron and XFEL Beam Lines

P.T. Docker, D. Axford, V. Baker
Diamond light Source,
United Kingdom

Keywords: pico litre sample delivery, protein crystallography, synchrotron, XFEL


This paper describes collaborative work carried out between engineering and beamline teams at the Diamond Light Source to further develop an automated ‘tractor-beam’ acoustic levitation system for across beamline sample delivery. To date great success has been had utilising the system for protein crystallography which has been detailed in papers published in Nature Scientific reports [1] and SRI conference proceedings [2]. These papers describe levitation of protein crystals in their mother liquor, free from any physical support, and via inherent motions, enables successful room-temperature protein structure determination in relatively short time frames. The latest device described here in detail is highly portable measuring only 100 mm tall, provides unimpeded access to the sample, requires only a few Watts of power, and costs only $100 to build. Additionally, the latest system, has an integrated PolyPico acoustic ejector, which provides the ability to remotely load the levitator with pico litre volumes of liquid, including suspensions of protein crystals. Given that the system can process the sample into the beam line, the positional control and absence of physical support, mixing and light activated experiments are also explored. Thus far, device application has been tailored towards, and experimentation carried out on a Macromolecular Crystallography beamline (I24). Given the inherent flexibility of the system, we are beginning to explore the potential application of the device on other beamlines, including small molecule diffraction, SAXS/WAXS (small/wide angle X ray scattering and XES (X ray emission spectroscopy), VMXI and X-ray Free Electron Laser XFEL applications. These applications are explored and preliminary results given in this paper References: [1] Non-Contact Universal Sample Presentation for Room Temperature Macromolecular Crystallography Using Acoustic Levitation, R. H. Morris, E. Dye, D. Axford, M.I. Newton, J. H.Beale, P.T. Docker Nature Scientific Reports ,August 2019, 9(1):1-10 DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-48612-4 [2] Tractor beam acoustic levitation for time resolved crystallography experiments V. Baker, F. Gu´eniat , D. Axford , P. Aller , N. Baker , G Leen , P. Docker, International Conference on Synchrotron Radiation Instrumentation (SRI) online, 28 March - 1 April 2022