APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Development of plant species for bioenergy
- Drug development and biotech research
- High-throughput multiplex (> 1,000 samples per print)
- Tunable printed sample volume with picoliter precision
- Fast, reproducible and accurate calibration for measurements and analyses
- Enable standardized and reproducible sample parameters (concentration, particle size, viscosity)
- Broad applicability to samples of different phases (solid, liquid, gel)
A Berkeley Lab team of researchers led by Hoi-Ying Holman has invented a fast and elegant system for on-chip printing of picoliter-sized samples of plant cell-wall material and biomaterials for high-throughput (HT) infrared (IR) analysis.
The Berkeley Lab approach employs a Micro-Electromechanical System (MEMS) that prints, on solid or flexible substrates, closely packed assemblies of energy crop particles, cells, virus, and microorganisms (bacteria, archaea, algae). Printing heads are fabricated using photolithography and reactive-ion etching. Solutions or suspensions of particles, cells, or biomolecules of 0.1–10 µL are loaded onto the inverted printing head, and arrays of picoliter-sized (2–20 pL) droplets are extruded, drawn down by gravity, and transferred through direct contact onto the substrate. The entire printing process takes place in less than five seconds. This enables a standardized, rapid, and reproducible molecular measurements via mid- and/or near-IR/or visible/or UV spectroscopy analysis of the printed materials.
There are no existing techniques to prepare samples for molecular measurement and analysis of cell wall materials that address the combined challenges of speed, high throughput, and reproducibility. Current methods are limited by laborious and time-consuming sample preparation techniques. The disadvantages of conventional methods, such as KBr pellet preparation or Nujol mineral-oil suspensions, make it virtually impossible to evaluate reproducibly, effectively, and economically the thousands of plant species that might be attractive candidates for cellulosic biofuels. The Berkeley Lab system offers not only high-throughput and uniform accuracy, but also an opportunity to standardize the parameters of bioenergy crop analyses.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Prototype
STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
SEE THESE OTHER BERKELEY LAB TECHNOLOGIES IN THIS FIELD:
REFERENCE NUMBER: IB-2013-073