Next generation sample preparation for cryo-EM

chameleon is a blot-free, pico-liter sample vitrification instrument specifically designed to provide a rapid and efficient path to quality frozen grids for cryo-EM

Rapid progress to the perfect ice thickness for your cryo-EM sample

blot-free, high-speed plunging

reduce air-water interface effects and enable difficult samples

easy to use even for novice users

guided workflows enables simple set up, use and cleaning

record keeping for future repeatability

capture all relevant grid parameters and images

chameleon with upper doors open

screen fewer grids at the microscope

select good grids based on visual images during freezing

virtually no manual handling

eliminate damage and loss via precise automated grid handling

safe storage and control of cryogens

automated drawer offers level sensing and temperature control

The sample preparation bottleneck...

Recent advances in cryo-EM have led to an explosion of interest in the technique for increasingly challenging structural biology projects. Producing quality frozen grids with vitreous ice of an appropriate thickness and evenly distributed particles remains one of the major bottlenecks in the structure determination process. Currently, highly skilled manual handling needs to be learnt to avoid physical grid damage. Poor traceability of storage locations can also lead to grid losses. Feedback on ice quality requires costly screening on an electron microscope, time better used for more productive data collection. chameleon’s aim is to enable automated, rapid progress to the optimum ice thickness for a range of samples, even those handled by researchers relatively new to cryo-EM.

The chameleon story...

chameleon is a commercial development of the successful Spotiton system, an idea conceived and brought to life by the groups of Bridget Carragher and Clint Potter at New York Structural Biology Center (NYSBC). Realizing the limitations of existing grid preparation practices, they set out to develop a robust and repeatable technique for specimen vitrification based on small volume dispensing using inkjet technology. The 'Spotition' (first published in 2012) as it became known, then underwent a series of iterative improvements in-house and became instrumental in an increasing number of high quality structures and cutting edge research papers on air water interface effects published by the team. chameleon distills out the advantages of Spotition and builds in our proven knowledge of process automation in the field of structural biology. With the release of our first production model chameleon systems developing an expert team was key - meet our new North American chamleon team.

chameleon sample preparation grid

Self-wicking grids for cryo-EM

chameleon removes the need for a physical blotting step via the use of nanowires grown on the surface of the copper grid bars. These nanowires help to draw the liquid into the bars leaving a thin layer of sample spread over the surface of the holey carbon film.

Key development references:

Spotiton: A prototype for an integrated inkjet dispense and vitrification system for cryo-TEM
Tilak Jain, Patrick Sheehan, John Crum, Bridget Carragher, Clinton S.Potter

A new method for vitrifying samples for cryoEM
Ivan Razinkov,Venkata P. Dandey, Hui Wei Zhening Zhang, David Melnekoff, William J.Rice, Christoph Wigge, Clinton S.Potter, Bridget Carragher

Spotiton: New features and applications 
Venkata P. Dandey, Hui Weia Zhening Zhang, Yong Zi Tan, Priyamvada Acharya, Edward T. Eng, William J. Rice, Peter A.Kahn, Clinton S.Potter, Bridget Carragher

Optimizing “self-wicking” nanowire grids 
Hui Wei, Venkata P. Dandey, Zhening Zhang, Ashleigh Raczkowski, Willam J. Rice, Bridget Carragher, Clinton S.Potter

Reducing effects of particle adsorption to the air-water interface in cryo-EM 
Alex J. Noble, Hui Wei, Venkata P. Dandey, Zhening Zhang, Yong Zi Tan, Clinton S.Potter & Bridget Carragher, 

Technical specifications

Minimum sample volume
5 µL
Sample block temperature control
4°C to 37°C
Minimum dispense volume
6 nL
225 kg
Standard dispense-to-plunge time
101 msec
Dimensions (W x D x H)
916 x 708 x 1687
Fastest dispense-to-plunge time
54 msec
Lab image

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