An Automated Sample Handling Workcell for the SNS Liquids Reflectometer

Award Information
Department of Energy
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Square One Systems Design, Inc.
3135 Mallard Road, PO Box 10520, Jackson, WY, 83002
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator
 Robert Viola
 (307) 739-0946
Business Contact
 Robert Viola
Title: Mr.
Phone: (307) 739-0946
Research Institution
 Oak Ridge National Laboratory
 John Ankner
 Spallation Neutron Source
Bldg. 8600
Oak Ridge, TN, 37831
 (865) 576-5122
 Federally funded R&D center (FFRDC)
When completed, the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) will provide unprecedented opportunities for performing groundbreaking neutron science. Two reflectometers are planned for the SNS, one optimized for the measurement of liquid surfaces and the other for the measurement of magnetic materials. The SNS¿s high neutron flux will allow these instruments to collect complete data sets in minutes rather than hours. However, this same high flux will preclude users from entering the experimental area while the beam is on. Thus, to take full advantage of the SNS¿s power, special remote handling technologies must be developed. This project will develop an automated sample-handling workcell, optimized for use with the liquid surface reflectometer. This novel robotic system will allow a sample to be introduced into the experimental area, check the sample¿s identity, mate it with a size-specific carrier, and transfer it into an environmentally controlled chamber. The system also will be capable of dispensing precisely metered volumes of water, deuterium, and other liquids. Phase I included mechanism design, creation of a system-level controls architecture, and identification of sensor technologies, culminating in a robotic prototype that successfully performed all of the basic tasks required of the automated sample handling system. In Phase II, advanced sample environment technologies will be developed, along with a multi-function liquids handling capability. A beta system will be tested within the liquids surface reflectometer. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: The Automated Sample Handling Workcell should significantly increase the efficiency of SNS reflectometer experiments. Variations of the work cell should find applications in other SNS experiments as well as at other high flux neutron sources. It is anticipated that the life sciences industry could be another large market: protein crystallography requires huge numbers of crystallization ¿cocktails¿ to be precisely dispensed and manipulated, and the work cell would will be well suited to these complex, high-volume operations. Finally, the system could be adapted for difficult handling tasks in radioactive or other harsh environments.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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