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X-ray transparent crystallization plates based upon a novel drop-pinning technology provide a flexible, simple and inexpensive approach to protein crystallization and screening. The plates consist of open cells sealed top and bottom by thin optically, UV and X-ray transparent films. The plates do not need wells or depressions to contain liquids. Instead, protein drops and reservoir solution are held in place by rings with micrometre dimensions that are patterned onto the bottom film. These rings strongly pin the liquid contact lines, thereby improving drop shape and position uniformity, and thus crystallization reproducibility, and simplifying automated image analysis of drop contents. The same rings effectively pin solutions containing salts, proteins, cryoprotectants, oils, alcohols and detergents. Strong pinning by rings allows the plates to be rotated without liquid mixing to 90° for X-ray data collection or to be inverted for hanging-drop crystallization. The plates have the standard SBS format and are compatible with standard liquid-handling robots.

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