An automatic sample changer system for measurements of large numbers of liquid samples – the µDrop Sample Changer – is presented. It is based on a robotic arm equipped with a pipetting mechanism, which is combined with a novel drop-based sample holder. In this holder a drop of liquid is suspended between two parallel plates by surface tension. The absence of a transfer line benefits the cleaning, improving the background as well as making it faster and more efficient than most comparable capillary-based systems. The µDrop Sample Changer reaches cycle times below 35 s and can process up to 480 samples in a single run. Sample handling is very reliable, with a drop misplacement chance of about 0.2%. Very low sample volumes (<20 µl) are needed and repeatable measurements were performed down to 6 µl. Using measurements of bovine serum albumin and lysozyme, the performance of the instrument and quality of the gathered data of low and high concentrations of proteins are presented. The temperature of samples can also be controlled during storage and during measurement, which is demonstrated by observing a phase transition of a mesophase-forming lipid solution. The instrument has been developed for use in small-angle X-ray scattering experiments, which is a well established technique for measuring (macro-)molecules. It is commonly used in biological studies, where often large sets of rare samples have to be measured.
- automatic dispenser
- micro drop