Grenoble Instrumentation Team

Robotics and process development for MX and Cryo-EM

Standards & Consortiums

RFID for life sciences

Central information page for the implementation of the Cryogenic Radio Frequency Identification system.


The CryoRFID consortium have been created by EMBL Grenoble Instrumentation group in order to bring together the manufacturers of CryoRFID equipped devices and to centralise the attribution of Manufacturer IDs and Device Type codes. 

The consortium is today composed by the following members: 

  • EMBL 
  • Mitegen 

To join the consortium or to request for the attribution of new Manufacturer IDs and Device Type codes please Contact us.

Technical Information

Programming protocol

The memory of the CryoRFID tag is organized in 52 pages. One page can store 4 bytes (32 bits) and ASCII encoding (4 characters/page) was choosen for the programming of the RFID tags. 

The pages are devided in three main domains

  • Device UID (Page 0 and Page 1)
  • Device Type Code (Page 2)
  • User Field ( Page 3 to Page 51 )
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is domains-2.tiff

Device UID

The Device UID has been defined to avoid duplicated IDs between different manufacturers. It is composed of 8 alphanumerical characters. Only six characters are used, the last two being reserved for future extension.

The first letter of the Device UID is the  manufacturer ID. It is attributed according to the Manufacturer Ids table here after. It is up to each manufacturer to follow up on the distribution of the remaining 5 characters, to ensure unique IDs in its production.The Device UID is stored in the memory Pages 0 and 1 of the RFID chip that contain 8 characters in total. Space characters (ASCII character: 32 decimal base, 20 hexadecimal base) should complete the 6 UID characters to reach a total of 8 characters. 

Example for the device UID “AX123A” we have to write “AX123A  ” into the chip.

Page 0Page 1
ASCII CharacterA X 1 23 A       
Hexadecimal Code0x41 0x58 0x31 0x320x33 0x41 0x20 0x20
Device UID example

Manufacturer IDs

Manufacturer NameManufacturer ID
Molecular Dimensions LtdC
Hampton ResearchH
Marresearch GmbHM
Reserved for internal testsA,Z
Manufacturer IDs

Device Type Code

The device type allows automated handling systems to recognize a device, e.g. in MX, the different pucks that fit in the same Dewar slot. The device type is stored in the memory page 2 of the RFID chip, which contains 4 characters in total. The currently available device type codes are summerized in the table Device Type Codes.

Example: For an SC3 puck , the code “MX0 “ has to be written to the page 2 of the RFID tag

Page 2
ASCII CharacterM X 0    
Hexadecimal Code0x4D 0x58 0x30 0x20
Device Type ID example

Device Type Codes

Device TypeDevice Type Code
SC3 puckMX0
SPINEplus puckMX2
miniSPINE puckMX3
NewPin36 puckMX4
NewPin64 puckMX5
Cryo-EM puck (MiTeGen design)MP1
Cryo-EM puck (Subangstrom design)MS1
Cryo-EM boxMB1
Device Type Codes

User Field

The used field can be used for any purpose. It starts on Page 3 and ends on Page 51.


On the table below we show an encoding example: 

  • Device UID: AX123A
    • Manufacturer ID: A
    • Serial number: X123A
  • Device Type Code: MX0 (uni-puck)
  • User Field:  ANY TEXT
example picture
CryoRFID reader


To help the widespreading of the CryoRFID identification technology the EMBL Grenoble Instrumentation Team has created the easy to use, easy to integrate CryoRFID reader/writer device. This device permits to read and write the cryoresistant RFID tags respecting the above described protocol. There are various accessories to adapt the reader to different device types (a couple of examples on the following pictures). The CryoRFID reader runs a web interface accessible from a simple browser (no software installation required). Furthermore it also runs a low level socket server permitting to integrate it into bigger systems using machine to machine communication.

For more information please contact us. 

Configuration file download

The CryoRFID reader/writer can be updated in order to support new manufacturer IDs ans device type IDs. In order to keep a coherence over these different codes and avoid duplicates, the latest configuration files of the devices are availables exclusively on this website. 

To proceed to the update of your device please download the latest configuration package from the list below and upload it to your CryoRFID reader device

Release Date

20 April 2020



First version


Please contact us by mail cryorfid@embl.fr

Latest Website Updates:

15 Feb 2021: Migration to WordPress
28 Apr 2020: Page creation

SPINE sample holder standard

SPINE Contract QLG2-CT-2002-00988

Latest news

2014 April 15th – SPINE SAMPLE HOLDER & VIAL SPECIFICATIONS-L-R05: In order to extend the handling possibilities of the Spine sample holder the dimensions of the Cap are completed/clarified (in red)

  • “DM 16106B – Cap” replaces “DM 16106A – Cap”.








Outdated Documents





Latest Website Updates:

15 Feb 2021: Migration to WordPress
20 Apr 2020 : Changing css sheet of the webpage

The NewPin project

miniSPINE, NewPIN & SPINEplus sample holders

This page is regularily updated with the latest developments 

Latest news
  • January 2018: A new set of manual harvesting tool is available for miniSPINE sample holders. See: Puck filling assistant
  • October 2017: A publication is now available: Towards a compact and precise sample holder for macromolecular crystallography, 2017, Acta Cryst. D73, 829-840
  • The NewPin BioStruct-X wrap-up meeting was held on February 2nd, 2016 in Lisbon:Participants: Bessy-II, CEA-IBS/FIP, DIAMOND, EMBL Grenoble, EMBL Hamburg, ESRF, MAX IV, NSLSII, SLS, Irelec-Alcen,MiTeGen, Molecular Dimensions, NatX-ray, Rigaku.
  • Feedback from the miniSPINE evaluation kits was compiled and the design of the miniSPINE Pins and Pucks will be revised accordingly. Updated specifications will be issued in Q2 2016. Pilot testing sites have been identified for equipment from 2017 onwards with the support of Irelec-Aclen and NatX-Ray. Intent for orders from interested sites will be collected by MiTeGen and Molecular Dimensions to fix the price of the first batches of Pucks and Pins.
  • October 2016: The Photon Factory has joined the NewPin project.
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 (http://www.biostruct-x.eu). 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.

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.


Different versions of the miniSPINE Pin base allow:

  • A fixed angular orientation of the base
  • A specific harvesting tool
  • Integrated RFID trarsponders (under development)

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 newpin@embl.fr

New miniSPINE puck filling assistant

To facilitate the manual harvesting process and manual puck filling:

  • Harvest and store the pins with crystals in the assitant (1)
  • Transfer the pins in the puck (2-5)

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 newpin@embl.fr 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 newpin@embl.fr 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.


Under development: For more information please contact newpin@embl.fr


Under development: For more information please contact  newpin@embl.fr


Datamatrix IDs

For more information please contact newpin@embl.fr

miniSPINE sample holders
  • 2D ECC200 Datamatrix code, 12 x 12 dots, 10 digits
  • Format: 0000000000 → 9999999999
  • First digit = manufacturer ID (0→9)
  • Digits 2-10: Unique number (000000000-999999999)
miniSPINE pucks
  • 2D ECC200 Datamatrix code, 12 x 12 dots, 6 alphanumeric
  • Format AA0000 → ZZ9999
  • First letter = manufacturer ID (A→Z)
  • Second letter and four digits: Unique code (A0000-Z9999)
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. 

ManufacturerManufacturer ID LetterManufacturer ID Number
EMBL (For development purpose)A0
Molecular DimensionsC2

Last website updates:

28 Apr 2020, 11:43:23 CEST: Correcting synthax used for uni-pucks
24 Jan 2018, 14:38:11 CEST: New miniSPINE puck filling assistant
13 Oct 2017, 08:45:00 CEST: Full access no longer requires login; Preliminary information PDFs on miniSPINE pins and pucks updated
20 Oct 2016, 15:03:10 CEST: Full access requires login. For mor information, please contact newpin@embl.fr
22 Aug 2016, 15:18:11 CEST: Minor updates
17 Mar 2016, 11:43:16 CEST: Last News, BioStruct-X Wrap-up meeting
07 Mar 2016, 16:28:32 CEST: New versions of miniSPINE pin and puck; Update of the evaluation feedback log