TFS Autoloaders

Category: Sample preparation
Sub-category: Cryogenic work

Autoloader grid handling including loading, recovery, cassette care and nanocab care.


You must complete all required safety training at the center you are visiting before hands on training. Coordinate this with the user office or training coordinator.


Relevant Training Information (to review until you can pass the knowledge test):

SOP for Autoloader Loading (for review before demonstration)

Vendor product information for reference

The pass/fail knowledge assessment will test understanding of the following concepts:

  • Tools needed and correct assembly of the autogrid transfer station.
  • How to verify proper loading of autogrids into a cassette.
  • NanoCab handling.
  • How to verify the microscope is ready for NanoCab docking/undocking.

Here is the current quiz version:

A workflow demonstration should be scheduled with center staff. The demonstration will cover all points of the SOP. You must have passed the knowledge quiz and reviewed the SOP before the demonstration.

Each center has additional specific Safety, Setup, and Shutdown procedures.  Below, you will find those protocols for each center.

Supervised and unsupervised practice by the user

Center staff will assist in arranging dedicated time slots for access to the necessary equipment. Registered users will be issued scheduler accounts through the NCCAT User Office.

Two (2) separate center staff observing your proficiency at separate times

Center staff will assist in arranging time for access to the necessary equipment and testing for independence. The practical test can not be scheduled during the same session as supervised practice.

An autoloader badge checklist will be used by the certifying staff to test for proper use of the instrument with a pass/fail outcome. All steps on the checklist must be performed to pass. You may use any instructions normally posted as a guide during the session.

Additional information:

Recertification period

  • Sample preparation merit badges for cryogenic work are valid for ~6mo.
  • Recertification (to maintain active status) would entail demonstrating proper use and care in front of a center staff member.

Furthering your knowledge

General background on plunge freezing