micro array of picoliter droplets within a 96 well MTP, very close macro view


The Advantages and Potential of Microdispensing

Valuable Tools

Microdispensers can transfer picoliter or nanoliter aliquots of solvents, solutions or suspensions of nano-particles from a source vessel onto a surface, or into another solvent or solution. Like inkjet printers in the office, they are valuable tools for next-generation laboratories.

They are fast, accurate and flexible, and some can even dispense aggressive chemical reagents, like strong acids or alkaline solutions. They make it possible to miniaturize liquid handling, e.g. in the production of biochips and biosensors.

The Advantages

  • Microdispensers enable digital liquid handling. All volumes are multiples of one.
  • Miniaturization: Thousands of experiments can be performed simultaneously.
  • Microdispensers are required to produce state-of-the-art biochips.
  • Microdispensers can save money, as much fewer reagents are consumed.
  • Homogeneous coatings: They can print dense layers of small droplets.
  • Efficient mixing: Instead of adding 1 µL at one position, add 20x50 nL at different positions.

Microdispensing vs. Pipetting - Miniaturization

Below 1 µL, microdispensing outperforms pipetting. It can deposit many different samples on areas smaller than 1 mm² and into channels only 200 µm wide. There can be no production of advanced biosensors and biochips without ultra-low-volume dispensing. It enables efficient miniaturization and, thus, the integration of complex workflows in a small chip.

The video displays an instrumentONE using a picoliter dispenser to create droplets of about 300 picoliters.

High-density Microarrays - Printing Biomolecules

Many biomolecules, like specific antibodies, are simply too expensive to be used in larger amounts. Using only picoliter aliquots overcomes that limitation and allows for multiplicate measurements.

In other cases, a precious sample needs to be analysed with many different potential binding partners. Good examples for this are high-density arrays of peptides for epitope mapping of antibodies, or of human proteins for disease-specific autoantibody screening in serum or plasma samples.

Microarrays in an MTP - A Few Hundred Instead of Only One

Imagine one well of a 96-well MTP gives you a few hundred instead of just one ELISA test. Miniaturization can save a lot of resources, space, time and money.

Many more tests can be performed in a single experiment, e.g. for subtyping of bacterial or viral infections. Also, less sample material is required per test. For instance, less blood for diagnostic monitoring would be required.

Spotting into microtiter plates requires the use of an instrumentONE, harnessing its ultra-fast Z-drive technology.