Oxford Diffraction has given a conference presentation describing an instrument called the "PX Scanner" at the Advances in Protein Crystallography conference in San Francisco, California.
Oxford claims that, this instrument is the first commercial product to offer combined automated optical inspection with in-situ X-ray diffraction of putative crystals in multi-well plates.
The presentation described how optical scans could be used to identify and locate putative protein crystals in droplets which could then be queued for X-ray analysis with a small, high brilliance X-ray beam; several practical examples were given.
For crystallisation screens the diffraction image from the PXScanner is designed to discriminate salt from protein and also provide some information about the diffraction properties of tiny crystals that could not otherwise be harvested.
For optimised crystal growth, the combined optical and X-ray images can determine resolution limits, mosaicity, and unit cells of crystals still growing in drops.
The PX Scanner is compact, with a footprint of about 0.5 square metres, connects directly to mains electricity and is intended for use in a crystallisation room.
The operation is semi-automatic and may be used by the technician as well as the experienced scientist.