Liquid Handling in Wet Laboratories
Handheld pipettes for liquid handling are ubiquitous in wet laboratories worldwide. Over 1.5 million pipettes and 10 billion pipette tips were sold worldwide in 2006, and sales numbers are expected to increase. In addition, the market for high-throughput liquid handling devices is expected to grow as corporations, hospitals, and academic labs aim to increase throughput in drug discovery applications, genomic sequencing applications, and diagnostic applications. Currently, the majority of these liquid handling techniques involve the movement of a plunger to aspirate or dispense microliter volumes of fluid and a resolution of 0.1 microliters. Their accuracy is also strongly affected by the physical properties of the solution. In high-throughput applications in particular, reducing the minimum volumes that automated liquid handling systems can aspirate and dispense would significantly reduce reagent waste, thereby, reducing costs and enabling further experiments.
High-Resolution Fluid Pipetting Device
Researchers in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan have improved the traditional pipetting mechanism in order to achieve increased accuracy, resolution, and minimum-dispensable volume compared to traditional pipetting devices. This technique involves mechanically attenuating the movement of the plunger that is used in current pipetting devices. This technique can be employed as a part of disposable pipette tips or within the body of handheld pipettes and automated liquid handling devices. In addition to dispensing nanoliter volumes of fluid, this technology can also aspirate nanoliter volumes, a common technique in bench-top, handheld pipetting.
Applications and Advantages
- Hand-held pipettes
- High-throughput, automated liquid handling instruments
- Disposable pipette tips to reduce minimum volume than can be pipetted and increase resolution while using a standard pipette.
- Precise delivery and removal of liquid volumes approaching less than one nanoliter.
- Can be easily integrated into handheld pipettes and automated liquid handling robotics.