HID Global RFID solution selected for use in Euro biolab

March 27, 2019
The European Molecular Biology Laboratory will use RFID technology in new design standard for cryogenic research equipment

AUSTIN, Texas, March 27, 2019 – HID Global®, a worldwide leader in trusted identity solutions, has announced that the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Grenoble, France has selected HID’s radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and its patented direct bonding technology for automated handling of biological samples at cryogenic temperatures of 196°C (-321° F) in liquid nitrogen.

EMBL Grenoble creates high-resolution pictures and 3D atomic models of biological macromolecules using a specialized imaging process called macromolecular crystallography (MX). These images are useful for studying biological materials, developing highly efficient medicine, and fighting cancer more effectively.

The images require molecular samples to be prepared in a crystallized form and frozen. Handling these samples is a complex task: tiny crystals must be grown, harvested, frozen on a sample holder at the tip of a tiny needle, and stored in liquid nitrogen at cryogenic temperatures and identified for further processing while remaining cool.

The Challenge

Most current sample holders used in MX imaging offer limited storage density and poor initial crystal-positioning, which affects processing and limits the benefits of automated crystal harvesting systems. As a result, EMBL set out to design a storage and identification solution robust enough to function at extremely cold temperatures, but small enough to facilitate high precision and storage density. It also needed to support high-speed, automated handling by robots.

“The HID Global technology has proven to be reliable against temperature cycling between room and liquid nitrogen temperatures, and the HID team was very supportive in helping us with our new designs,” said Florent Cipriani, Head of Instrumentation Team, EMBL Grenoble.

A New RFID-enabled Design to Track Cryogenic Samples

Embeddable RFID tags and direct bonding technology from HID were chosen for identification in EMBL’s new sample holders due to the tags’ tiny footprint, proven track record to work in cryogenic environments, and ability to be custom designed to meet the needs of EMBL. HID’s direct bonding further allows the secure attachment of antennas to chips without the bulk of added modules, making the units the smallest HF formats available in the market that deliver uncompromised performance.

“HID Global’s proven RFID technology has been used in various cryogenic environments for years,” said Richard Aufreiter, Director Product Management, Identification Technology with HID Global. “It was a natural partnership between HID and EMBL to design a tracking system resistant to frosting and other aspects of extreme cold. Our team worked directly with EMBL engineers to ensure the best tracking system was deployed in their newly designed sample storage solution.”

With HID technology, EMBL developed two new sample holders optimized for high throughput, precision, and reliable sample tracking of more than 200 thousand crystals per year. The new RFID-enabled sample holders increase throughput by allowing the crystal harvesting, cryogenic storage, and MX beamline feeding process to be fully automated using robot grippers and specifically designed RFID readers. Available memory space in the RFID tags can store additional information about the samples. 


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About HID Global

HID Global powers the trusted identities of the world’s people, places and things. We make it possible for people to transact safely, work productively and travel freely. Our trusted identity solutions give people convenient access to physical and digital places and connect things that can be identified, verified and tracked digitally. Millions of people around the world use HID products and services to navigate their everyday lives, billions of things are connected through HID technology. We work with governments, educational institutions, hospitals, financial institutions, industrial businesses and some of the most innovative companies on the planet. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, HID Global has over 3,000 employees worldwide and operates international offices that support more than 100 countries. HID Global® is an ASSA ABLOY Group brand. For more information, visit www.hidglobal.com