Tools of the Trade

The Tools of the Trade updated 9-20-2023

A short list of tools used in crystallographic and X-ray diffraction experiments. Point to image for link to supplier

  1. Picks/probes

    1. Micro tools      microtool

    2. 0.7 pencil/ sewing needles

0.7 Mechanical Pencil and fine sewing needle. Remove lead and insert fine sewing needle at the end of the pencil

    1. Beading Needles

Amazon keyword : Long Beading Needle Various sizes : 10 to 25 (10 thin to thick) Buy a variety of sizes.

    1. Micro pick  keyword : Micro Pick :  Caution :  Paint on handle will dissolve in acetone etc..


    2. Acupuncture needle

      SERIN type J :    to make a long handled needle insert needle base in stir stick and secure with heat shrink tubing.  keyword :  Acupuncture needle.   Can be inserted in the pin vice 

      note : An acupuncture needle is a restricted medical device under section 520(e) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. 360j(e))

    3. Micro Probes     

    4. Micro needles/ micro-Pin vice   

    5. Blackhead removerneedle

  1. Inoculation Loop

Amazon  keyword : inoculation loop.   Good for removing crystals from NMR tubes.   To use dip loop in oil, insert into tube, spin loop to gather crystals then remove loop.

  1. Paintbrush


Amazon  keyword : micro paint brush.  Good for picking up small dry crystals.

  1. Knifes

    1. X acto

    2. Sapphire 

      Very sharp knife good for cutting crystals (warning the knife blade is brittle).

    3. Scalpel

    4. Dissecting Needle  

      Stainless Steel Dissecting Needle with Spear Shaped Head. Use sharping stone to sharpen spear head to make usable cutting instrument.

  2. Spatulas

    1. Micro scoop  spatula

    1. NMR tube spatula


Wilmad-LabGlass: SST Microspatula, 250 x 3 mm for 5 mm NMR Sample Tube

    1. Sculpture tools

  Beale Spatula Wax Mixing Carvers Dental Double Ended Stainless Steel Lab Instruments

  1. Pins/Loops

    1. Brass/Copper

      1/8" OD 0.061"  ID Copper Tubing. Use plasticine to anchor glass pin and nail polish as adhesive. Choose colored nail polish for identification purposes

    2. Brass specimen pin

    1. Nylon loop


       18 mm Mounted CryoLoop - 20 micron : Normal : 0.4 - 0.5 mm size

    2. Kapton loop 

      200 micron aperture DT MicroLoops (Normal)

    3. Magnetic Base (ALS style) 

  1. Fibers/capillaries

    1. Glass

      1. Fiber      Micro-torch used to pull glass rods to thin fibers.

      2. Capillary    

        Special galss : 0.5mm for single-crystal,  1mm for powders.  Micro-torch used to seal capillaries.   Use wet chem wipe to isolate crystal/powder and then heat and pull.

    2. PET    clear heat shrink medical tubing :  Choose thin-walled tubes 0.5-0.25mm

    3. Kapton       0.5mm for single-crystal  0.8mm for powders

    4. Jobber Drill

#68 for 0.8-1.0mm, #78 for 0.5-0.8mm (pack powder in kapton/pet)

  1. Glue

    1. Nail Polish

    2. Super Glue

      1. Gel 

      2. UV activated     uvglue


    3. Duco Cement

    4. Epoxy


  2. Oils and Grease  (handy chart for viscosities)

    1. STP oil treatment   

      Good cryo-protectant (does have a minor amount of anti-knock Zn additive ~5ppm) Comment :  Buy STP brand name!

    2. Mineral Oil

    1. Flurolube

         flurolubeUse flurolube oil when STP is not suitable.

    2. Apieazon M grease (Si free)

Apiezon Viscosity  Use L. M or N

    1. Petroelum Jelly


    1. Fomblin  YL VAC 25/6


      perfluoropolyether vacuum oil

    2. Krytox 205 GPL grease  and 105 oil  (see also LVCyro oils)

         Krytox  Krytox Oil

      Krytox fluorinated oils are a series of low molecular weight, fluorine end-capped, homopolymers of hexafluoropropylene epoxide. The polymer chain is completely saturated and contains only carbon, oxygen, and fluorine; hydrogen is not present.   Krytox GPL 105 oil and Kryto GPL 205 grease contain no additives.

  1. Mounting supplies

    1. Plasticine

    2. Bee's Wax 

    1. Glass torches and sealers

      1. Micro-torch

      2. Thread Burner Amazon   Keyword: MAX WAX comment : Seal glass capillaries in dry box.

    1. scotch tape41

      1. majic tape

      2. double sided

  1. Dewars

    1. Yoga Block 

      Amazon   Keyword: Yoga Cube :  Good for LN2 or Dry ice.   Cut a well in the cube to hold LN2, cover with a lid cut from the block.  Short blocks can replace the glass dewar to mount crystals with the microscope.


    2. Short Dewar Flask

Low form dewer can be used in mounting crystals with the microscope.

  1. Slides/Spot plates/dishes

    1. Slides with cavities (wells)

      slides with cavities : comment :  Good for holding samples covered by solvent.

    2. Spot plates   : Spot plate : comment : Good for growing crystals

    3. Square Petri Dishes

      Plastic  Square Petri Dishes : good for holding slides (with crystals in oil).  Can be compactly stacked with other square dishes.

    4. Slide preparation

      1. Rain-X

      2. Teflon Spray

    1. Crystal Drying Tiles

      1. Unglazed ceramic tiles

Use under side of tile to dry crystals.   Place in freezer with xtals bring to low temperature and then transfer to microscope.  Will keep crystals cool for about 3 mins.

  1. Powder Sample holders and Sieves

    1. Zero Background Holder (ZBH)

without cavity   and/or with cavity  zbh cavity  Single Crystal Quartz Holder ZBH SiO2  Mount in stainless Steel holder or use with back-loaders

    1. Quartz Discs

      Quartz disks are cheap powder sample holders.  Sand blast surface to create a shallow divot.

    1. 100 mesh (150m) sieve

You can position a sieve over the ZBH, load a powder and gently tap, to produce a monolayer of dispersed powder on the ZBH surface.

    1. Small Paint Brush

Use to sweep powder through sieve.

  1. Misc.

    1. Floss Picks    Fiber/tube diffraction remove floss and mount fiber

    2. Micro Aligator Clips hold samples for wide angle scattering

    3. SEM pin stub

SEM pin mount  use for mount samples for powder diffraction on SCD instrument

    1. #6 Roofing nails

:  2.5 cm to 4cm length (1 to 1.5 inch ) Copper or Stainless Steel.  use for mounting samples for powder diffraction on SCD instrument

    1. Ruby Spheres    Alignment xtal.   Not all spheres are single un-twinned crystals.   Buy several and examine them one by one to find a single crystal.

    2. Radiaton Monitor (pancake type)    TBM-15 meter

  1. Tool Box : Compartment Storage Organizer Box with Removable Dividers

  1. Good tool kit for instrument maintenance. 113-Piece Tamper-Proof Bit Set

Good toolkit for maintanence jobs.