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Facility User Agreement Vitrobot and Manual Plunge Freezer

The Vitrobot and the manual plunger are a semi-automated and a manual variant machine for cryo-TEM sample vitrification. The devices perform the cryo-fixation process on TEM grids at constant physical and mechanical conditions utilizing liquid ethane and liquid nitrogen. The Vitrobot's controlled environmental technology prevents cooling and concentration of artifacts that are inevitable in other freezing protocols. The transfer from the vitrification medium into the liquid nitrogen atmosphere has been automated, ensuring consistent sample quality at high sample throughput. The manual plunger is located in a cooled, humidity controlled environment. Reservations of this equipment includes free use of the Gatan Solarus Plasma Cleaner for preparation of the TEM grid surface prior to vitrification.

Prerequisites for independent use of the Vitrobot or Manual Plunge Freezer requires completion of the following training path or demonstrated proficiency:

  • New User Orientation
  • Vitrobot Training
    • 2 – 2 hour one on one training sessions with facility staff
      • Manual Plunge Freezer requires only 1 session with staff if Vitrobot training already completed
    • Final approval by facility staff by demonstration of proficiency


  • Reservations can be made 14 days in advance
  • 4 hour time limit during primetime facility hours (9AM-5PM)
  • Cancellations allowed up to 1 hour before the reservation time without incurring a charge
  • Users must log in to FOM upon arrival and start of work
  • Users must log off in FOM upon completion of work
  • Charges will be based on earlier of reserved or actual start time – later of reserved or actual end
  • No shows will be charged for reserved time
  • Damage to equipment due to negligence or improper use will be charged to the originating lab
  • All data is offloaded to an external server. The facility will not store data long term. Users must download their data from this server within 24 hours after which it is subject to deletion without notice

Recharge Rates

  • Internal Collaborative Use**:   $144.00/hr
  • Internal Supervised Use:   $94.00/hr
  • Internal Independent Use:   $44.00/hr

**Collaborative use time on Vitrobot and manual plunge is scheduled on a case by case basis under special circumstances. This equipment is intended as educational instrument and for supervised and independent users. The UCSD CryoEM facility staff does not typically perform fee for service work on this microscope.