XRD COVID Safe SOP revised 28 August 2020

COVID-safe SOP (X-ray Crystallography Facility)


Steven Geib is responsible for the X-ray Crystallography Facility, located in Room 450 Chevron Science Center.  The X-ray Facility consists of one X-ray Diffractometer, its associated computer, microscope, and bench space which includes an area for Sample Drop-off.  

Currently, access to X-ray Crystallography services is available in two ways. 

Samples may be submitted for data collection and analysis by Steven Geib and this service will continue as usual.    For users outside of the Chemistry complex, please coordinate with Steve to drop off your samples.

There are trained users (currently 18) who have been trained on X-ray diffractometer use and who are allowed to collect their own X-ray data.  If you are not trained, you cannot use the X-ray Diffractometer (standard policy). You can, however, use the sample submission service, or have a trained group member collect data for you.   Additionally, trained users should always feel free to submit samples through the sample submission service.  If you have questions about proper use, contact Steven at geib@pitt.edu

1.  Access to the X-ray Crystallography Facility:​

a.  The X-ray Diffractometer must be reserved before its use. Scheduling will proceed through FOM, which is available at https://fom.nano.pitt.edu/fom/.  If you are already trained and do not have access to FOM, please contact Steven Geib.  When you access the lab, log onto FOM, and you MUST login to let us know you are using the Diffractometer.  Similarly, you MUST logoff when your data collection is finished.  Logging off may be done remotely.  Besides the usual reason of letting us know if the X-ray diffractometer is in use, logging in and out is also necessary for purposes of Contact Tracing should that become necessary.  As always, if you know you are not going to use your reserved time slot, cancel your reserved time slot on FOM as soon as possible, or notify Steven Geib.

b.  To help with contact tracing, do not use your account to reserve instrument time for another user to physically use the instrument. Also do not let another user use your unused time slot.

c.  Movement within Chevron and Eberly requires the wearing of a face mask.  To access the X-ray Lab, you must proceed to the CIC on the 4th floor of Ashe, either from Chevron or from Eberly.  Upon entering the facility, you must wash your hands with soap and water in the sink to the left of the door.  Please be cognizant of other researchers who might be in the Mass Spec, NMR rooms, and corridor, and avoid contact.

d.  After washing your hands, proceed directly through the corridor to the instrument you have reserved.

e.  You should always come into the facility only through the main door. Do not use the door on the other side of the NMR facility (behind Rose’s desk) to enter or to exit.

f.  There should be one person in the X-ray area, and you should not come in groups even if working together in the same lab.   Exception: one additional person may enter only to drop off a sample on the sample drop-off Bench, and only if they can do so while maintaining 6 ft. distance from anyone in the area.

g.  If you have not yet used the X-ray since the COVID protocols, discuss the protocols with Steve Geib, review the SOP and confirm with Steve that you understand and will abide by these precautions.

Please inform Steve  Geib (geib@pitt.edu/ 624-1131; cell no. 412-327-1912) of any issues or concerns with the X-ray Diffractometer or Facility in general.


2.  Transporting Samples:

a.  While transporting chemical samples to the CIC, remember to follow safety protocols that are already in place, such as using secondary containers and using the freight elevator while transporting chemical samples. More info can be found here: https://www.intranet.chem.pitt.edu/safety/chemicals-materials-safety/

b.  Remove all samples and any secondary containers from the X-ray lab after your data collection is complete.


3.  Basic requirements for COVID safe usage of the X-ray Crystallography Facility:

a.  Wear mask at all times while in the X-ray Lab and in the Chemistry complex.

b.  Wash hands with soap and water before use (there is a shared sink inside the X-ray lab and Mass Spec areas and also restrooms near the 4th floor elevators).  Maintain social distance while doing so.

c.  Disinfect X-ray shared surfaces and tools before AND after use:

1.  Spray provided disinfectant on a paper towel and wipe off the keyboard, mouse, arm rest area of the desk and chair.

2.  Disinfect microscope knobs, diffractometer door handles, etc.

3.  Make sure you dispose of paper towel, Kimwipes, and used gloves inside the trash can.

4.  Mounting tools, goniometer heads, goniometer tools will be cleaned periodically by X-ray staff.

d.  Ensure that area surrounding the equipment is clear, clean, and disinfected.

e.  Wash hands with soap and water after use.


4. X-Ray Data Access and Processing:

To reduce the time spent by users at the X-ray facility, after data collection trained users may want to download their data and process it on their own group computers. Many trained users already do this regularly.  I can provide the software if anyone wishes to set up a computer to do this.  You may use the lab diffractometer computer to process your data, but only when no one else is in the X-ray Lab.  Only one person in the X-ray lab at one time, and the person who is scheduled on FOM at that time obviously has priority.  I can also send users’ data files to them by email or make them available on DropBox.


5. Submitting Samples for Analysis by X-ray Lab Staff:

To submit samples bring your samples to the X-ray lab.  As you enter the X-ray Lab, the sample drop-off area is the first lab bench on the left.  Leave your sample and a filled out submission form (You can minimize your time in the lab by using the fillable  pdf submission form at http://xrayruby.chem.pitt.edu/xrayweb/subxray.pdf  and printing it out ahead of time)  together on the bench, making sure your sample vial is properly labeled.  If someone is in the lab already, you may drop off your sample if they are at the other side of the lab and you make sure that you observe proper social distancing.  After drop-off, leave the lab and notify me by email (geib@pitt.edu) or phone or text me at 412-327-1912 that you have left a sample. 

6. Shutdown:

If the University must shutdown the facility and access to the X-ray Lab, Steven Geib is responsible for blocking access through FOM and shutting down the instrument properly.

New User Training

Potential new users should contact X-ray Crystallography lab Director Steven Geib (geib@pitt.edu) by email to schedule a training. Do not come to the facility or office without an appointment. Steven Geib will confirm a time with the trainee and reserve the instrument time in advance.

NOTE:  Prior to your X-ray instrument training, you must complete Radiation Safety Training for Analytical Instruments (not the radioisotope training) through the Radiation Safety Office and be issued a radiation monitoring ring badge.  Contact the Radiation Safety Office at radsafe@pitt.edu (Ph: 412-624-2728).  They are currently conducting their training via Microsoft Teams sessions.

a.  One and only one trainee is allowed per training session. Come alone at the scheduled time.
b.  Per EHS recommendation, a face shield along with a disposable face masks must be worn by both trainer and trainee during the training session, as they might be closer than 6 feet.
c.  Upon entering the CIC, users should wash their hands at the sink in the X-Ray lab (immediately to the right of the entrance).
d.  It is not necessary to bring a sample to the lab. Everything needed for training will be provided by the X-ray Staff.
e.  During training, only staff will operate the X-ray diffractometer and other equipment. Staff and users should not share the same keyboard and mouse.
f.  Staff will be responsible for disinfecting the training area after use.
g.  After the initial training session, trainees will be observed when running their samples until certified for independent use (at least one use of instrument).


This policy is subject to revision as conditions change.


COVID shutdown and clean


Cleaning procedure for MCL instrumentation after it was found to have been recently used by a person who is diagnosed with a COVID infection.

  1. Notify all users by email that a given piece of equipment was used by a person who tested positive or is showing symptoms for COVID as required by the University of Pittsburgh Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
  2. Block scheduling and access to the equipment and the room in which it is located as required by the current EOC guidelines.
  3. Disinfect entirety of the instrument and its surrounding area by wiping every surface down appropriate disinfectant as required by the current EOC guidelines.
  4. Notify all users by email when the tool is available for use and make it available on FOM.