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 CHRNS: liquid handler for autonomous sample preparation

Center for High Resolution Neutron Scattering small logo

 CHRNS liquid handler for autonomous sample preparation 


Neutron reflectometry is the structural technique of choice for studying biological and soft matter interfaces. However, the slow data collection at traditional reflectometers has limited the impact of these measurements. The recent advent of fast instruments such as the CANDOR reflectometer, with measurement speeds on the order of minutes instead of hours, opens new possibilities for systematically exploring increasingly complex experimental systems. Efficient use of these new capabilities requires automated sample handling and preparation, which we are initially implementing under this aim for CANDOR.

CHRNS liquid handler
The CHRNS liquid handler at a testing station.


We have acquired an automated liquid handling device for use at NCNR beamlines. It allows the mixing and injection of liquid solutions of arbitrary composition into fluids cells. We are currently implementing seamless online and offline use and are integrating the liquid handler with the CANDOR instrument control software. The liquid handler has the following features:

  1. Continuous X-Y-Z motion of the sample probe for arbitrary positioning.
  2. Reliable volume transfers from the microliter to milliliter scale.
  3. Internal and external probe wash stations
  4. Custom method development
  5. Direct injection into fluids cells (or external sample loops)
  6. Temperature controlled sample racks
  7. Septum piercing capabilities for volatile, hygroscopic, or otherwise air-sensitive solutions



Created February 3, 2023, Updated February 13, 2023