Reliable drop setting with active humidity control

The NT8 is a fast, compact, nanoliter-volume liquid handler with drop dispensing capability, including LCP experiments. The 8-tip head aspirates and dispenses drops from 50 nL to 1.5 μL. Dry dispense any volume between 50 nL - 1.5 μL of a range of fluids with CV´s averaging 5%.

Efficiently designed, the NT8's dead volume is less than 3 μL for 96 drops. NT8 tips are reusable, yet inexpensive enough to be disposed after each use. Active humidity control minimizes sample evaporation.

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Reliable drop setting with active humidity control

The NT8 is a fast, compact, nanoliter-volume liquid handler with drop dispensing capability, including LCP experiments. The 8-tip head aspirates and dispenses drops from 50 nL to 1.8 μL. Dry dispense any volume between 50 nL - 1.8 μL of a range of fluids with CV´s averaging 5%.

Efficiently designed, the NT8's dead volume is less than 3 μL for 96 drops. NT8 tips are reusable, yet inexpensive enough to be disposed after each use. Active humidity control minimizes sample evaporation.

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Flexible Finger Technology

In order to ensure that drops wick to the crystallization plate, all eight tips must touch the plate. To achieve this, each tip is attached to a flexible finger that can travel +/- 0.5 mm vertically, enabling the dispense head to contour to each dispense surface. Each tip also has a sensor that indicates when the tip contacts a surface. These sensors allow the NT8 to drive down precisely to the point where all tips touch the plate.

Ultra Low Volume Dispense Head

Perfect Dispense Gap New

New NT8's are now shipping with a flexible finger clamping enhancement. This enhancement allows the NT8 to lock the tips' height when they are touching the plate. The NT8 can then retract away from the surface - yielding the perfect dispense gap for setting drops. This enhancement improves drop precision and reduces the chance of bubbles.

Ultra-Low Volume Dispense Head

At the core of the NT8 is an eight-channel nanopipettor that reliably dispenses drops from 50 nL to 1.5 μL with CVs averaging 5%. The NT8’s pipette tips feature a very small geometry and a hydrophobic coating, ensuring precise dispensing across the full range of buffers and reagents encountered in protein crystallization.

The low volume head uses liquid displacement pipetting, which means the tips can be quickly washed from the inside out and reused, or discarded for zero cross-contamination.

The small geometry of the tips results in small dead volumes. The total dead volume for the NT8 is less than 3 μL, depending on the viscosity of the ingredient.

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Plate Copy Dispensing

The NT8’s plate copy option, used for creating daughter plates from deep well blocks, automatically loads tips and can aspirate and dispense up to 200 µL from the block to up to 3 daughter plates.

Equipped with eight individual pressure sensors, the plate copy head accurately detects when each tip contacts liquid, allowing the NT8 to aspirate from just below the liquid surface. This feature prevents viscous liquids from coating the outside of the tips and dripping while in transit to the dispense location.

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LCP Dispensing

The NT8’s LCP option can accurately and quickly dispense drops as low as 30 nL. Its fully-automated calibration system ensures that the syringe tip is centered to within 50 µm of the target drop location, and it can dispense LCP and well solution drops to a 96-drop LCP plate in about 7 minutes.

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Active Humidification

The NT8 prevents sample evaporation with three powerful, fully-enclosed humidifiers that actively control humidity from ambient to 95%. You can set humidity on/off manually or “set it and forget it” and let the NT8 do the work.

The NT8 can increase humidity from 60% to 85% in under 20 seconds. The humidifiers are positioned away from active samples so your drops are protected from condensation and buildup.

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User-Friendly Software

The NT8 software is designed to be user-friendly. See the software tab for further details.

NT8 was developed in collaboration with Vadim Cherezov (TSRI) and the JCIMPT center led by Ray Stevens and supported by the NIH Common Fund in Structural Biology.

The LCP option includes several components that add to the NT8’s functionality. A specialized syringe holder is added to the NT8’s head; a mixing syringe is stationed at the left of the NT8’s body, and a calibration station ensures that LCP dispenses are precise.

LCP Head Attachment

The 8 mm barrel LCP dispensing attachment dispenses LCP drops as low as 30 nL. Performing a complete dispense to a 96-drop LCP plate takes about 7 minutes.

The LCP dispensing option also includes a lipid mixer which attaches to the deck of the system.

LCP Mixer

A lipid mixer attaches to the deck of the NT8. Configuring the number of mixing cycles is simple -- type the desired number of mixing cycles into the software when setting up the LCP dispense. The NT8 does the rest.

The LCP option includes a fully automatic calibration system for the lipid syringe.

LCP Auto-Calibration

The LCP option includes a fully-automated syringe calibration station, ensuring that the syringe tip is has an accurate gap to the plate with as low as 50 μm tolerance.

NT8 Frequently Asked Questions:


I. Software:

Do I need to purchase software maintenance for the NT8 software to work?

When you purchase the NT8 you get a perpetual copy of the software. This means the software license is yours to keep and run for life. No maintenance is required.

Software maintenance provides you with all the most advanced updates to the NT8 software and access to Formulatrix' world-class support if you ever have any questions, but it is not a requirement.

After my software maintenance contract runs out, will I still be able to use my NT8 software?

Yes, of course. Your software license is a perpetual license for you to use for however long you would like. It is yours for life.


II. Consumables:

How many low volume tips does it typically take to dispense one protein drop per well on a 96-well plate?

The NT8 provides the flexibility for you to chose. The tips are washable and can be reused for multiple runs. If your research requires strict cross-contamination guidelines, than you can use a new tip for each well for a total of 96 tips. Most users fall somewhere in-between typically using one set of 8 tips to dispense their protein drops across their 96-well plate.


III. Drop Setting:

What is the lowest volume the NT8 can dispense?

The NT8 can dispense down to 10 nL drops in dry plates.

What types of drop dispensing can the NT8 perform?

The system can set up hanging drop, sitting drop, microbatch, in meso LCP drops, and seeding dispenses.

Can the NT8 set up seeding experiments?

Absolutely - as little as 10 nL seed stock drops can be dispensed. Simply, add your seed stock to one of the three columns of the protein tray and run your protocol as if you are dispensing any other protein.


IV. Humidification:

How long does it take the NT8 to reach a relative humidity of 85%?

With it’s 3 powerful humidifiers, the NT8 can go from an ambient humidity of 35% up to 85% in just 35 seconds.

What is the humidity variance within the NT8's chamber?

The NT8 has tight control of the humidity with a variance of only +/- 2.5%.

Does humidification come standard or is an additional option?

All NT8 systems come with the humidification feature at no additional cost.

How often do you have to refill the NT8 humidification tank?

You don't need to as the chambers are filled automatically making utilizing the humidification easy.

Automated Solutions Make LCP More Accessible to Protein Crystallographers

Automated solutions have made LCP more accessible to protein crystallographers

Recent advances in automation technology for drop setting, condition screening, and imaging have made LCP crystallization considerably more accessible. This application note will discuss the three major steps of LCP crystallization and how automation technology is significantly facilitating the use of this powerful methodology.

Read More.

The NT8 control software features a colorful graphical interface that is point-and-click controlled. Designing a standard sitting drop protocol requires a few easy-to-remember steps: Drag your crystallization plate to one of the three microplate stations. Then select "pick tip", followed by a dispose or wash command to either dispose of tips or clean them. Then select the aspirate and dispense commands with the volume set from the NT8's dispense list. Finally, click the Run button and the NT8 goes to work.

NT8 software

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Flexible Finger Clamping

The NT8's Flexible Fingers can sense when they come into contact with the plate within μm's. Once the tips have flexed to the surface, a solenoid will close, clamping their position. The manifold will then raise slightly to the exact space for the drop to be dispensed. This ensures that drops will be accurately and reliably dispensed, regardless of variations in the plate surface as shown on the video below.

Physical Dimensions:

  • Width: 653 mm (25.7")
  • Depth: 511 mm (20.1")
  • Height: 431 mm (16.9")
  • Weight: 38 kg (83.8 lb)

Computer Specifications:

  • Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 OS
  • 1 open USB port (compatible with USB 3.0 or older)
  • 1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 1 GB hard disk space

Electrical Specifications:

  • 110-240 V, 50-60 Hz, 130 W typical, 200 W max. Standard or European outlet

To order more pipette tips (BrandTech PN 73102) contact BrandTech Scientific or your preferred lab products distributor.

Environmental Specifications:

The NT8 is fully operational in both ambient and cold room environments.

Waste/Wash Source Bottle Recommendations:

Formulatrix recommends a 2 L or greater waste bottle for the wash station. It is recommended to use an even larger wash solution bottle since the wash solution is used as the system liquid.


Drop Dispensing Accuracy:

  Volume Liquid CV's
Wet Dispense 100 nL Water 2.67%
Dry Dispense 100 nL 100% DMSO
10% Isopropanol
Sticky Protein
Easy Protein
50% PEG 6K
70% MPD

PPM Cross Contamination after 2 seconds wash:

Solution Cross Contamination Spec Average Contamination
Buffer / Water 100 ppm 7 ppm
50% PEG 6K 100 ppm 21 ppm

  Average User Satisfaction Rate


La Trobe University - Connie Darmanin 06/04/2017 10:03 AM

The NT8 is a very versatile instrument that is fundamental to my research. It provides me with the flexibility to set up crystallisation plates as well aiding in the development of new methodologies. The low volume tips and its humidifier is a crucial aspect of the design that allows us to deal with highly viscous solutions and accurately dispense down to nanoliter volumes. The service team and engineers provide outstanding support and I would highly recommend this robot to other users.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center - Connor Weidle 05/30/2017 01:54 PM

I’m the primary user on the NT8 in my lab. I’ve used several different drop setting robots and I can tell you this machine is my favorite. The humidity is a nice feature I can add my trays and let the machine go without fear of it drying out, this allows me to multitask stress-free when running the NT8 as it mixes my protein and solutions. Additionally, I always will make three trays from deep well aliquots and not having to reseal them is also a plus. The tip usage is somewhere in between the mosquito and the phoenix, but I feel like it’s found a good balance here and the waste is an acceptable amount. I’m ok with some waste as having all reusable tips can be quite the hassle as tips can break and require regular cleaning. Drop setting on this machine has always been perfect and hassle free. I’ve had errors on both the phoenix and mosquito and I had to watch the machines to make sure they ran as expected. With the NT8 I can set drops without worry and have stopped my habit of babysitting the robot. Priming the system is also a breeze, having turbine pumps is much easier than a pressure based system. If I had to have one complaint it the amount of water the machine goes through, but perhaps this problem could be solved with a slightly larger Dewar.

Althea, CMO - Jonathan Alvarez 05/24/2017 02:41 PM

I believe that we have taken the NT8 to its limits. In our lab there are times when the NT8 is running non-stop for multiple business days. The sitting drop plates we use have 3 wells to each reservoir, really testing the robot's ability to dispense in the correct location. As we approach 2 years with the NT8, I can say, with certainty, that the NT8 is a powerful robot. It is dispenses its drops with high accuracy and precision. It is very versatile, being able to dispense its drops on all plates that are programmable. I am very pleased with the machine. My only complaint is the speed of the robot. Only 8 tip-heads are available for the low volume and high volumes tips. Nonetheless, I would recommend this robot over any other competitors.

Dana Farber Cancer Institute, HMS - Sirano Dhe-Paganon 04/18/2017 01:28 PM

As a crystallization robot capable of sitting or hanging screens and prepping expansion plates, the NT8 is fabulous. It is accurate, reliable and flexible. Notably, the water displacement mechanism and small tips allow for extremely low error rates at 100 nanoliter volumes. The tip washing module means that it requires almost no consumables and therefore costs nearly nothing to operate. Moreover, the machine is robust and forgiving even to the most careless or novice user. The NT8 is not just our crystallization robot, it is our most important liquid dispensing instrument.

Ajinomoto Althea - William Wittbold 05/20/2015 12:03 PM

The NT8 makes setting up our hanging drop and sitting drop plates a breeze, and has greatly streamlined our workflow

Aaron Moulin 10/20/2014 5:34 PM

I probably can't say enough good things about the NT8. It's simple to use, robust, reliable and fast. I found I quickly abandoned using the ARI Phoenix in the lab (except for plate copying) in favor of the NT8 for all crystallization setups.
It works great with all plate formats and is exceedingly easy to calibrate. My only small complaint is that plate copy time is too slow.
Great product and I'd recommend it to anyway.

Ben Gurion University - Anat Shahar 10/20/2014 5:34 PM

I am very pleased with the NT8. One thing that I would improve is the RM integration feature, which I find not very user friendly, and therefore I hardly use it. Of course you can manage without it, but it would have been even easier to use by using it.

Major Pharmaceutical Company – anonymous review 10/20/2014 5:34 PM

I would say the NT-8 is way better way to set up the plates than the mosquito. It has IR-sensor to detect the syringe and also does a good job in maintaining the critical distance between the syringe tip and the plate. For Mosquito, when I do LCP I always have these gel sticking on the tip on the syringe which make the dispension volume less accurate. But I don't think the NT-8 has this problem. Also, the NT-8 has the LCP mixer built in that mixing LCP by hands is not necessary any more.

Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth - Jason McLellan 8/27/2014 8:00 PM

I’ve used several competing liquid handlers and the NT8 is by far my favorite. I especially like the compact footprint, integrated humidity chamber, intuitive software, and the ability to wash or dispose of tips. This last point is important to us since washing the tips during a single plate setup saves money, but disposal of the tips between plates reduces potential contamination. Everyone in my lab finds it fast, easy to use and customizable. We did have one issue where the water pressure was too high, causing our tips to inadvertently eject, but Formulatrix sent a technician to repair the problem and we’ve had no other issues.

Stony Brook University Medical Center - Kip Guja 10/22/2013 3:15 PM

Our NT8 dropsetter has proven to be an invaluable asset to our crystallographic work and has become a real workhorse instrument in our lab. Not only does it allow us to test twice as many conditions in half the time (if not more), but it is easily adapted to more customized applications such as screening drop ratios or using additives. We continue to receive prompt, personalized support from Formulatrix and benefit from their constant improvements to both the NT8 and its software. We are very pleased with our experience thus far, and would highly recommend the NT8 to anyone interested in automated crystallization screening.

Heinrich-Heine-University – Astrid Höppner 5/23/2013 3:56 PM

The NT8 robot is really an improvement for all protein crystallization trials in our lab! The amount of protein needed for initial screens is reduced five-fold and the NT8 is therefore also well-suited for crystallization experiments of membrane proteins. The software enables an easy handling and allows a broad range of possible applications. And for all those lab members who are not dealing with protein crystallization this fancy device is really an eye candy.

Wang Laboratory at The Skirball institute - NYU Langone Medical Center 9/11/2014 7:29 PM

We especially like the mixing capabilities of the NT8. The machine is very easy to use and we appreciate the many user-friendliness of the software. There are several stop-gaps in place that will prevent the machine from moving if the set-up is not quite correct. For example, if the syringe is not fitted properly. The program alerts you to this. There is little chance of damaging the instrument.

Northwest A&F University – Weifei Chen 7/23/2014 12:30 AM

We buy a lot of products for Formulatrix such as Rock Imager (both 4c system and RT system), Formulator and NT8 for protein crystallization, when using this machine we do face some problems and once I even want to return them back but people from Formulatix always try their best to solve the problems. Finally I think Formulatix is really a responsible company and they always try their best to service the customers. More important, the products are easy using.

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel – Anat Shahar, PhD 9/9/2013 9:33 AM

We have already used it for so many different applications and it didn’t failed even once. It has the ability to perform almost everything you want and as such, it makes the crystallization experiments very user friendly and convenient. The most impressing thing (I guess the ones who used the older version will agree with me) is that it works perfectly well even if it wasn’t used for a long period (not to mention after one day, which wasn’t trivial at all for the older version). There is no need for any calibration or other adjustments - you can just press "run" and it works. In addition, the option of "plate copy" is great, and it makes the process even more automatic. Therefore, to everyone who has doubts regarding this system, I truly recommend it.

Pfizer - Mark Ammirati 10/20/2014 5:34 PM

Very clean well designed. Dispensing speed might be an issue. I like the absence of a syringe pump.