A thermal cycler sometimes called a PCR machine or DNA amplifier, is an essential machine in biochemistry labs. They are used to facilitate temperature sensitive reactions. In molecular biology they are used for DNA sequencing, cloning, generation of probes, quantification of DNA and RNA, studying patterns of gene expression, and detection of sequence-tagged sites. They are most often used however to amplify segments of DNA via the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and also used in restriction enzyme digestion and rapid diagnostics.
Description of a Thermal Cycler
The top or front of the device has a thermal or heating block with holes where test tubes or other sample vessels, holding the reaction mixtures are inserted. The thermal cycler then raises and lowers or cycles the temperature of the block in distinct, pre-programmed steps. For reactions to work properly, the block must change temperature at exact times, and spend exact durations of time at precise temperatures. The scientist programs the temperature cycling information into the thermal cycler either by computer or via a console on the instrument, or uses a pre-programmed routine built into the machine.
High quality units like the Biometra T One Thermal Cycler are equipped with a heated lid that presses against the lids of the reaction tubes. This prevents condensation of water from the reaction mixtures on the insides of the lids. They also have silver blocks to achieve fast temperature changes and uniform temperature throughout the block. And finally, they have multiple blocks with high heat capacity, each of which is kept at a constant temperature, and the reaction tubes are moved between them by means of an automated process.
When a lab is seeking to purchase thermal cyclers, there it must consider its current and future needs. Key questions include:
- Types of PCR protocols used
- The level of sensitivity required
- The number of samples to be amplified at one time
- The range of sample volumes (analytical to preparative)
- Trade-offs between yield and specificity
- Whether gradient capability is required
- Protocol run times (e.g., for fast PCR)
- The number of users
A wonderful choice that will fit the above requirements is the Biometra TOne Thermal Cycler. Economical, quiet in operation and high-performance, Biometra TOne Thermal Cyclers are ideal for complex PCR optimization and routine lab work. This compact bench-top unit with efficient airflow (lowers noise level) also includes program templates for various applications. Multi-step programming feature allows users to enter parameters of various applications on a single screen. Standard and Linear Gradient Tool bench top units include a 96-well sample block ideal for routine processes.
- Available in Standard and Linear Gradient Tool models
- Linear Gradient Tool (#846-070-301): For easy gradient programming using the primer annealing temperature
- Fast Ramping: reaches high heating and cooling rates of up to 4°C/sec.
- Block Control: Controls sample block temperature without under- or over-shooting programmed target temperature
- High Performance Smart Lid (HPSL) Technology: defined pressure control for highly reproducible conditions
- Sealed sample block prevents condensation from contacting instrument components
- Low noise emission of max. 45 dB
- Includes 96-well sample block (0.2 ml)
They also feature:
- Automatic restarts after power failure
- Automatic lid opening mechanism
- 7″ color touchscreen display and intuitive software interface
- Preprogrammed templates meet a wide variety of applications
- Intuitive multi-step programming allows users to easily design novel thermal cycling protocols
- Direct spreadsheet and graphical programming allow users to quickly modify cycling parameters
- Built-in extended self-testing quickly assesses the thermal cycler performance and summarizes results in a storable report format
- Provides optimum contact pressure regardless of PCR tubes
- Heated one-touch lid opens at a 90° angle for easy sample access and user safety
Best of all they are backed by a great warranty, and distributed by Laboratory-Equipment.com, one of the top distributors of laboratory equipment in the US.