Spin Coating

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Spin coating is a technique used to uniformly coat a flat substrate with a small amount of fluid. The substrate is placed on the spinner with a small drop of fluid in the center, and then spun at high RPMs to evenly distribute a thin layer across the entire face. This technique is useful for the SSI bio team specifically, which spin coats ETFE with fluoropel to create a hydrophobic film used in electrowetting. This guide describes the standard operating procedure for the Durand spin coater we have access to.

Spin coat for SSI

Durand Spin Coater in all it's pre-1980's glory


Anyone who wants to use the spin coater has to contact Michael Arcidiacono (SlackLogo.png@{{{display-name}}} ) or one of the bio team coleads first. The spin coater is a new addition to the SSI toolset and no standardized access has been set up as of yet. It's essential to contact the appropriate personnel before using the spin coater: we want to keep our Durand access!


The spin coater is located in the Durand Building (address) in room 150. This is the lab directly to the right of the first floor entrance. The spin coater is a model PWM32-PS-CB15 Spinner System developed by Headway Research, Inc.

Make sure you're wearing safety glasses when using the spinner! Glasses are on the wall to the right when you enter the room. Bring a micropipette and a small, lightweight piece of glass/plastic to spin on. The spinner uses a vacuum to keep the slide on the rotating bit, so no special attachment is necessary. But, if your slide that you're loading is too heavy, it won't work. Use light pieces of glass/plastic!

Loading a spin pattern on the PWM32 means making a recipe. A recipe has 1 to 9 steps, each one with its own RPM and duration. For basic use we only need to change 1 step for our desired speed and duration.

Standard Operating Procedure

1. Plug in the vacuum and spinner power cords into the outlet by the fume hood.

2. Turn on the yellow and black box.

3. For basic spin coating,

  a. Press Recipe
  b. Press 3: This is the recipe that we'll be using for SSI. 
  c. Press Step, then 1 on the keypad (to change the first step).
  d. Press Step terminate and set the duration with the number pad. Then press enter.
  e. Press Speed and set RPMs with the number pad. Then press enter.

4. Center your slide in the bowl, pipet a droplet of liquid onto the center of the substrate and close the lid. If the slide is too heavy or too off-center it'll fall off and the machine will make a high pitched noise. This isn't a big problem, just recenter and try again.

5. Turn on the power switch on the vacuum.

The vacuum and the green/red pad

6. Find the green/red floor button and press the green button to start the spin. Pressing the red button is an emergency brake. There are two sets of green/red buttons: use the newer one. While spinning you can use the two buttons next to the speed arrows to change the RPMs; however, it's suggested that all your spins are preprogrammed in the recipe.

7. Congratulations! You're done. Make sure you unplug/turn off everything and clean up afterwards. Again, we want to keep our access!

P.S. For SSI Biology device: standard procedure for coating ETFE with fluoropel is 30s at 3000 RPM. Then cure on a hot plate: 80 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, 150 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.

Useful links

Headway Research Spin Coater User Guide

Headway Research Spin Coater FAQ

Open drop spin coating procedure