Volumetric and hygrometric performance of the NT8®,
an advanced liquid handler for high throughput crystallization screening
The formation of the Structural Genomics Consortium in 2004 has significantly increased the number of structures deposited to Protein Data Bank (PDB) per year for two reasons: the advent of a large group of researchers focused on solving and depositing structures and the creation of the automation space for crystallization screening. It would not be possible without automated imagers as routine inspection of crystallization experiments is very time-consuming. However, specialized liquid handlers capable of dispensing sub-microliter volumes were, and remain, the absolute requirement for accelerating crystallization screening.
These liquid handlers are frequently called drop setters and allow researchers to set up the experiments faster, but more importantly, to set up more screens with the same amount of sample due to the reliable low-volume performance of the instruments. Unfortunately, lower volume crystallization experiments are very sensitive to evaporation, which can be countered by either the instrument speed, which can not be increased without other drawbacks, or by the addition of humidity control.