Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Breaking to avoid it.

The reason microarrays can occasionally break is primarily due to the fragile and brittle glass that some organizations have chosen for their substrate. At ArrayIt we have created a formulation of glass (harder than borosilicate and soda lime) and special cutting, grinding, polishing, and laser ablation procedures to avoid micro-fractures. Micro-fractures in glass are very problematic, since through vibration, direct pressure and other stress of microarray processing can cause a micro-fracture to become a major break. Our combination of hard glass and polishing procedures provides glass specifically designed to survive the entire life cycle a microarray substrate must live though. Microarray glass goes through many processing and manufacturing steps prior to the end user finally scanning their raw data. Steps include:

laser ablation (optional)
surface chemistry
microarray manufacturing
post hybridization

Some microarray instruments are harder on the glass than others. The most severe stress is caused by gaskets in automated hybridization stations and multiplexed hybridization tools pressing a sealing gasket down hard on the glass. This is the time where failures are most common and most disastrous since not only is the microarray lost, but so are all the hybridizations. Other stress areas are on the nest or deck of the microarrayer...such as when glass is held down by vacuum pressure, clips or other holding mechanisms that place can place stress on the glass.

Accidents can always happen, but breakage is minimized by using the proper substrate. For more information on microarray substrates please see