Solving Sample Evaporation Problems and Eliminating Edge Effects with The MicroClime Environmental Lid

Written by Allison S on March 20, 2019

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We’ve created a solution to prevent evaporation of samples from microplate wells. The Labcyte MicroClime® Environmental Lid effectively removes edge effects by eliminating evaporation that may occur along the perimeter of assay plates. This is a major concern in many cell-based assays that require plate incubation for proliferation of cell lines. It is also a considerable dilemma for long-term plate storage or in IC50 analyses used for drug development. Evaporation can diminish data quality and must be prevented in order to obtain consistent and repeatable results.

Long-term storage or incubation has negative effects on sample quality when microplates are unsealed. But plate sealing is not possible for many cell-based assays. When cells need to be incubated, sealing the plate prevents gas exchange, causing discrepancies in cell growth rates. Unfortunately, using a standard lid alone will not prevent evaporation or edge effects from occurring along the perimeter of the plate.

Evaporation is rapid along the edges of the microplate, and in non-aqueous solutions containing DMSO, rapid hydration of samples can also occur. When DMSO is exposed to air, it absorbs water from the atmosphere, pulling it into the well and diluting the sample containing DMSO. Both evaporation and hydration lower the concentration of the solution due to the movement of water into or out of the well. Air exposure lowers the concentration of solutes along the edges of the plate, but the concentration of solutes in wells toward the center of the plate remain relatively unchanged. In terms of sample quality, a high degree of variability is observed between the innermost and outermost wells of the plate. This discrepancy may contribute to false negatives in screening assays.

That’s why we’ve designed the MicroClime Environmental Lid. It ensures that a stable humidity level is maintained consistently in each well. The lid has a bilayer design to retain moisture with a thin fabric film. This film is pressed against the top of the plate and adhered by a thin layer of plastic. The plastic covers all of the wells of the microplate but has a small gap along each edge. The gaps allow for the film to be wetted using either a bulk filler or syringe.

When the lid is filled and the film is wetted, the lid retains moisture. The edges of the plastic are open on all four sides where the top of the microplate touches the base of the lid; a seal is formed at this juncture, creating a vapor barrier between the microplate and external environment.

The type of fluid to fill depends on the solvent used for the assay. In aqueous assays, water should be used to fill the lid. When using DMSO as a solvent, DMSO should be used to fill the lid. When filled properly, the MicroClime Lid is an effective tool for preventing edge effects and concentration variations of solutions in microplate assay wells.

The MicroClime Lid is automation-compatible and can be used with a wide variety of fluids in many different applications. Learn more about how the MicroClime Environmental Lid can benefit your research and prevent sample loss.

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