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Cryogenic Automated Transfer System – CATS

CATS – Cryogenic Automated Transfer System – is a robotics system intended for macromolecule crystallography on Synchrotron beamlines. It enables frozen samples to be transferred automatically from a storage Dewar to an analyzing station by means of an original patented method.

The fruit of cooperation between IRELEC, the CNRS and the CEA, the CATS system has become a reference in Europe for sample changers on beamlines. It then crossed European borders when IRELEC supplied 4 systems simultaneously to one of the reference Synchrotrons in the world: APS (Advanced Photon Source) in Chicago.

Comprising a 6-axis industrial robot arm with a set of special tools, CATS is a reliable, flexible, multi-standard system, which lives up fully to the expectations of scientific teams looking for performance and reliability in their experiments on Synchrotron beamlines.

The decisive advantages of the CATS system are:

  • compatibility with the main standards used in the international Synchrotron community (Spine, Universal puck project, etc.);
  • compatibility with in-situ data collection in crystallization plates;
  • Open Source control software;
  • Fully automated process management: LN2 level detection and storing Dewar automatic filling, shutter pilotingcontrol, diffractometer electro-magnet control, barcode reading, automatic tool-changing, etc.;
  • reliability, level of automation and storage capacity (> 500 frozen samples) required for high throughput experiments;
  • compliance with European standards in force.


Development of new functionalities, taking account of each customer’s specific constraints, commissioning systems on operating sites, training users as well as global operational support are carried out by IRELEC teams throughout the world.