The automation of protein crystal presentation for X ray diffraction experiments using standing acoustic waves in a microfluidic chip environment
Burton C., Docker P., Prince M., Leaper M., Morris R., Newton M., Kay J., Stuart D., Evans G.
As the pressure continues to grow on Diamond and the world's synchrotrons for higher throughput of diffraction experiments, new and novel techniques are required for presenting micron dimension crystals to the X ray beam. Currently this task is both labour intensive and primarily a serial process. Diffraction measurements typically take milliseconds but sample preparation and presentation can reduce throughput down to 4 measurements an hour. With beamline waiting times as long as two years it is of key importance for researchers to capitalize on available beam time, generating as much data as possible. Other approaches detailed in the literature    are very much skewed towards automating, with robotics, the actions of a human protocols. The work detailed here is the development and discussion of a bottom up approach relying on SSAW self assembly, including material selection, microfluidic integration and tuning of the acoustic cavity to order the protein crystals.