The NewPin project

miniSPINE, NewPIN & SPINEplus sample holders

This page is regularily updated with the latest developments

Useful links: SPINE Sample Holder

Latest news

Project History

In 2009 a feasibility study for a new sample holder standard with high sample storage density and precise sample positioning was launched at the EMBL Grenoble. Since 2011 the project has been supported by the European FP7 program BioStruct-X under the name NewPin ( Led by the EMBL Grenoble outstation the project numbers six synchrotron partners: DLS, ESRF, EMBL@PETRA-III, HZB-BESSY II, the MAX IV Laboratory and SLS. NewPin is also supported by the US synchrotron NSLS-II and by European and American companies active in the field of consumables and robotics (MiTeGen, Molecular Dimensions, Irelec and Arinax).

Two sample holder models named NewPin and miniSPINE were initially proposed. Both allow the storage of 36 samples in pucks with a uni-puck style footprint. A robot gripper that acts as a cold buffer can manipulate both the miniSPINE and NewPin sample holders.

A puck and a robot gripper compatible with the SPINE sample holders (SPINEplus) have also been defined to facilitate the migration from SPINE to miniSPINE and NewPin.


Initial evaluation of miniSPINE and NewPin was made at the EMBL ESRF/GRG beamline BM14 using a robotic setup based on a six 6 axis industrial robot, a compatible robot gripper and a Dewar (FlexED8: the first member of a fast and flexible sample-changer family for macromolecular crystallography, 2017, Acta Cryst. D73, 841-851 ).

The miniSPINE model has been selected for the medium scale evaluation of the new standard as it is easier to integrate into beamlines. miniSPINE Evaluation Kits were proposed to evaluate the manual use of the miniSPINE sample holders. A kit includes miniSPINE sample holders, a miniSPINE Puck, a crystal harvesting tool with harversting assistant, a pin extracting tool and a puck handling tool.

The NewPin model will offer high precision sample positioning and the possibility to increase storage density to 64 pins per puck (fully robotic handling only). The pins will be optionally identified with RFID transponders (under development). The NewPin model will be further evaluated in a second round.

Details of former developments are available here.


The standard defines the main dimensions of the sample holder base and associated puck and identification schemes.

miniSPINE sample holder (Pin) base

The miniSPINE Pin base is a 7 mm diameter ferromagnetic support with 1.9 mm diameter gripping area. The basic Pin model is compatible with 0.65 mm diameter cryo-mounts. The dimensions of the Pin base make the miniSPINE Pin compatible with Spine-compatible goniometer setups. See goniometer mounts. The miniSPINE Pin bases can be identified with a Datamatrix ID. Preliminary information (pdf).


Different versions of the miniSPINE Pin base allow:

miniSPINE Puck

Holds up to 36 miniSPINE Pins. uni-puck style footprint for compatibility with sample changers that accept uni-puck pucks (Requires specific Dewar slots). Compatible with CX100 transport Dewars. Preliminary information (pdf).

miniSPINE puck

A puck for Robot direct data collection is under development (DDC puck).

For more information please contact

New miniSPINE puck filling assistant

To facilitate the manual harvesting process and manual puck filling:


miniSPINE Pin Extracting Tool

To extract/insert miniSPINE Pins from the miniSPINE Pucks.


Puck Handling Tool (miniSPINE/NewPin)

To manipulate the miniSPINE or NewPin pucks and their covers.


Robot Cryo-gripper (miniSPINE/NewPin)

To transfer the miniSPINE and NewPin Pins with a 6 axis industrial robot.

Robot Cryo-gripper

For more information please contact or IRELEC-Alcen

SPINE/miniSPINE Goniometer Mount

Electromagnet with Pin detection. Compatible with Spine and miniSPINE Pins

Spine goniometer

About the Pins lengths

For more information please contact or Arinax

miniSPINE Dewar Slot

Recommended Dewar slot for miniSPINE, NewPin and SPINEplus Pucks. Compatible with uni-pucks: Precise puck mounting with accurate puck detection.

Dewar slot

See Preliminary information (pdf)


Under development: For more information please contact

newpin newpin newpin


Under development: For more information please contact

spine plus spine plus spine plus


Datamatrix IDs

For more information please contact

miniSPINE sample holders
miniSPINE pucks
Unique IDs

To avoid duplicates the first character of the codes identifies the manufacturer. It is up to the manufacturers to ensure unique IDs within their production.

Manufacturer Manufacturer ID Letter Manufacturer ID Number
EMBL (For development purpose) A 0
MiTeGen B 1
Molecular Dimensions C 2

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