President’s Message/Message du Président 22 Spring / Printemps 2018 Dr. Goldenberg is the founder of the field of Robotics at the Uni- versity of Toronto where he has been since 1982 as a Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engin- eering (now Emeritus), cross-appointed in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, and formerly cross-appointed in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He has supervised to date many graduate students, 46 PhD and 64 MASc. From 1975-1981 he has been an employee of SPAR Aerospace Ltd., of Toronto, working on the development of the first Space Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (Canadarm). Dr. Goldenberg is also the founder of Engineering Services Inc. (ESI) established in 1982 and operating in the development of robotics-based automation. Under his leader- ship, the company has achieved significant growth and a global leading role in a wide range of industrial sectors. In 2015 ESI has been acquired by a Shenzhen-based Chinese consortium, and as of November 2016 the company become public listed in Hong Kong. Dr. Goldenberg is the CTO of the public com- pany. About the Author All personnel are issued a unique bar- code for their samples. These sam- ples are collected in bar-coded trays distributed throughout the power sta- tion. Each evening these trays arrive at the health physics laboratory for analysis. An operator simply should place these trays on the input con- veyor section of the robot system and the robotic cell takes care of the rest. For each sample the robotic cell performs the following basic operations: ● Reads the barcodes on the incoming bottles containing urine samples ● Transfers a measured amount of sample material from sample bot- tle into an empty scintillation ana- lyzer vial ● Adds measured amount of liquid scintillation cocktail into the vial ● Seals the vial and thoroughly mixes the contents ● Deposits the vials into the scintil- lation analyzer cassette ● Provides the data relating the sam- ple code to the location of the vial HIGH-DENSITY COLONY REPLICATOR The High-Density Colony Replicator is a dispensable, very high density bio- sample array replicator as an attach- ment to colony picking robots. Experimental work conducted in bio- technology laboratories requires repli- cating large numbers of yeast col- onies. The colonies are grown in regu- lar arrays on standard gel plates. One task of the experimental process involves transferring an array of sam- ples from a library plate onto a mating plate, followed by transferring of another array of samples from a bait plate onto the same mating plate, in such a way that the samples in the corresponding locations overlap. Another task requires creating “cop- ies” of sample arrays: cells from each colony on the source plate are trans- ferred onto one or more target plates. The common process of replicating large numbers of yeast colonies is relatively inefficient. The density of yeast colony array is limited primarily by the accuracy and repeatability of the equipment used to manipulate the samples. The commonly used “bed-of- nails” print heads can reproduce an array of 768 colonies on a standard gel plate. There is a need to increase the array density by increasing the number of metal pins in a print head. However, the pins in such print heads need to be considerably smaller, pos- itioned more accurately, and machined with more precision. Therefore, the print head is much costlier to manu- facture and difficult to maintain. Moreover, metal pins need to be washed after every transfer, which requires additional time and equip- ment, and introduces the risk of sam- ple cross-contamination. A new print head was developed that would use disposable replicating pads. Such a print head can replicate high-density arrays and does not require washing of the surfaces that encounter sample material. In addi- tion, disposable pads with density, pin-tip size and pin configuration cor- responding to the currently used metal-pin print head have also been developed. HIGH-PERFORM- ANCE AUTO-SAM- PLER FOR MASS SPECTROMETRY Mass Spectrometers (MS) in biotech- nology and pharmaceutical laborator- ies are used to process large numbers of protein samples. They operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is necessary to automate the pro- cess, so that unattended oper- ation over an extended period is possible. Auto-Samplers can automatic- ally pick up samples from vials, or from 96-well plates; however, the sample loss is very high, as these instruments cannot effi- ciently handle very small (20 to 50µl) quantities. Auto-Samplers can operate in two modes: full-loop and partial-loop injection. Only partial loop injection is suitable for small samples. However, even in this mode sample loss can be as high as 50% due primarily to large dead volume (approximately 40µl) on the intake side of the sample loop. Although manufacturers provide dead volume compensation procedures, in practice a significant part of each sample is lost because of fluid dynam- ics and protein absorption in the intake line, as well as other factors. The accuracy of MS measurement is also affected by high protein absorp- tion inside the stainless-steel sample loop, and relatively large dwell vol- ume between the buffer pump and the column. An auto-sampler for very low-loss automatic injection of samples into the mass spectrometer column was developed. The system is placed dir- ectly in front of the mass spectrom- eter. It includes a compressed air sup- ply system and control system. It is based on a micro-cross assembly mounted on an X-Y-Z positioning mechanism. The mechanism is used to manually adjust the position of the column tip in front of the MS opening. The required range of adjustment is approximately ±3 mm for each DOF. Positioning accuracy is 0.2 mm. An Injection Head Assembly is mounted on a vertical linear actu- ator. The actuator inserts the injec- tion head into the sample vials, or into the waste line coupler. The injection head has two sealed ports: one for the 100µm liquid line that connects the injection head to the micro-cross, the other one for the compressed air line. The method of sample injection into the column assumes that the sam- ple will not flow into the line con- necting the micro-cross to the buffer pump. If significant backflow into the buffer pump line is found, a cut- off valve installed on the pump line next to the micro-cross prevents it. A Vials Handling Mechanism is used to position the selected sample vial or the waste line coupler under- neath the injection head. The vials sit in the matching nests in the vial blocks. The blocks will provide necessary mechanical support when high pressure is applied to a vial. ■ High density replicator attached to colony arrayer robot Mass spectrometer with the mounted auto-sampler Biotechnology and Laboratory Automation Robots continued from page 20