Well plates are widely used in many applications from sample incubation to tissue culture. There are many plate formats that can be used for different applications. Here is an example of a 24-well plate.
Cells and tissues inside the wells of the standard well plates are typically observed optically using microscope via fluorescent tags. Observations using microscope often require removing well plates from the incubator they are in, causing potential damage to the cells and tissues. Therefore, observations are often not performed often.
Using the same format as the standard well plates, the smart well plate incorporates biosensors inside each well to allow simultaneous monitoring of target analytes inside each well. Miniaturization of the biosensors inside each well and highly integrated backend electronics and control software allow the smart well plate system to be inside an incubator while monitoring changes of target analytes in real-time.
The smart well plate system consists of the following components: 1) a set of wells with individually addressable biosensors; 2) a printed circuit board (PCB) containing backend electronics for sensor signal conditioning and amplification, and a microcontroller for data conversion and overall system control; 3) a base unit housing power supplies, mechanical control units including step motors for mechanical manipulations of the PCB and the wells, and a microcontroller for overall system control functions. The smart well plate has an optional microfluidic support system to enable injections of therapeutics and manipulations of live cells inside each well. The following diagram illustrates the composition and operation of a 5-well smart well plate system.
We are currently working on all components of the smart well system and their integration.