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Joint Research Group Macromolecular Crystallography

The HC1c Crystal Humidifier

Many biological macromolecules yield crystals displaying significant inherent disorder, and as a consequence diffracting X-rays rather poorly. One approach to increase the crystalline order is to dehydrate the crystal in a controlled manner before shock-cooling it to 100 K for storage or for data collection. One of the first commercial devices for this was the Free Mounting System FMS developed by Kiefersauer and colleagues [1]. However, due to its rather difficult and cumbersome operation and due to its prize, the FMS never became very popular in the MX community. Recently, a new device (HC1b) has been developed by Sanchez-Weatherby and colleagues at the EMBL Grenoble, which allows for a much easier use [2, 3] (see also Figure 1).

Since January 2011, a HC1c device is installed on BL14.3. It is very easy to operate and allows the user to:

  • improve the diffraction limit of a crystal by controlled dehydration,
  • determine optimal cryo-cooling conditions,
  • determine optimal soaking conditions for macromolecular crystal,
  • collect data at ambient temperature.


For HC1c experiments, it is necessary that you bring crystals in crystallization trays. Furthermore, the crystals need to be mountable on meshes (Figure 3). Since HC1c experiments require some changes to the beamline setup, it is essential to let the beamline staff know about this in advance. For more information, please contact Dr. Manfred Weiss.


[1] Kiefersauer, R., Than, M. E., Dobbek, H., Gremer, L., Melero, M., Strobl, S., Dias, J. M., Soulimane, T. & Huber, R. (2000). J. Appl. Cryst. 33, 1223-1230.

[2] Sanchez-Weatherby, J., Bowler, M. W., Huet, J., Gobbo, A., Felisaz, F., Lavault, B., Moya, R., Kadlec, J., Ravelli, R. B. G. & Cipriani, F. (2009). Acta Cryst. D65, 1237-1246.

[3] Bowler, M. W., Mueller, U., Weiss, M. S., Sanchez-Weatherby, J., Sorensen, T. L.-M., Thunnissen, M. M. G. M., Ursby, T., Gobbo, A., Russi, S., Bowler, M. G., Brockhauser, S., Svensson, O. & Cipriani, F. (2015). Cryst. Growth Des. 15, 1043-1054.