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Royce Technologies, Picoliter, Packard Instruments, PerkinElmer, Motorola, University of Chicago, Affymetrix

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Royce Technologies of Las Vegas, Nev., received US Patent No. 6,643,010, “Multiple microchannels chip for biomolecule imaging.” The patent covers a glass panel chip for supporting biological samples for observation with an imaging microscope. The panel includes a top flat surface, a bottom bearing surface, and from 1 to 200 channels extending in parallel from top to bottom surfaces for the input of fluid biological samples. The porous substrate that is created by the slot channel can provide the maximum binding surface area per unit cell or pixel, as compared to cylindrical pores, thus achieving higher sensitivity and better imaging. Also, this panel chip is capable of being used as direct in situ synthesizing of molecules and drugs. The investors say the device will be able to perform a large number of biomoleculer tests simultaneously, as well as produce a uniform test environment for each biomolecule test and eliminating statistical test-to-test variations.


Picoliter of Sunnyvale, Calif., received US Patent No. 6,642,061, “Use of immiscible fluids in droplet ejection through application of focused acoustic energy.” The invention covers a system for generating extremely fine droplets on the order of 1 picoliter or less using focused acoustic energy to eject the droplets from a reservoir containing two or more immiscible fluids. Typically, the droplets are ejected onto discrete sites on a substrate surface so as to form an array. In some instances, the reservoirs contain layers of immiscible fluids, wherein an upper layer exhibits a non-uniform thickness. In such a case, fluid from a lower fluid layer may be propelled through an aperture region of the upper layer.


Packard Instruments, now PerkinElmer, received US Patent No. 6,642,054, “Microarray spotting instruments incorporating sensors and methods of using sensors for improving performance of microarray spotting instruments.” The spotting instrument described in the patent includes one or more sensors that are mechanically fixed to the instrument’s printhead. The sensors enable the instrument to detect whether a substrate is mounted in a particular holder of the instrument’s substrate station prior to attempting to print spots onto that substrate. Similarly, the sensors enable the instrument to detect whether a reservoir is mounted in a particular holder of the instrument’s well station prior to attempting to collect a sample of target material from that reservoir. The sensors also enable the instrument to read bar code labels affixed to substrates or reservoirs mounted in the instrument.


Motorola received US Patent No. 6,642,046, “Method and apparatus for performing biological reactions on a substrate surface.” The invention provides a system for performing biological reactions on a substrate surface that utilizes a low volume of sample fluid, accommodates substrates as large as or larger than a conventional microscope slide, accommodates a number of independent reactions, and accommodates a substrate surface that has one or more hydrogel-based microarrays attached to it. The invention provides an apparatus that allows the introduction of fluids, in addition to sample fluid, into each reaction chamber via standard pipette tips. The invention also includes a system that increases reaction reproducibility, increases reaction efficiency, and reduces reaction duration. The invention is configured to accommodate a standard microscope slide substrate with four hydrogel-based microarrays attached to it. It comprises a base plate with a well structure corresponding to each microarray, and two fluid ports extending through the base plate into each well structure and a means for sealing the perimeter around each microarray and well structure, and a means for sealing the fluid ports from the environment.


The University of Chicago received US Patent No. 6,642,000, "PCR amplification on microarrays of gel immobilized oligonucleotides." The patent covers a system that combines two methods for performing PCR amplification, combined with the detection and analysis of the PCR products on a microchip. In the first method, the amplification occurs both outside and within gel pads on a microchip, with at least one oligonucleotide primer immobilized in the pad. In the second method, PCR amplification also takes place within gel pads on a microchip, but the pads are surrounded by a hydrophobic liquid which separates the individual gel pads into environments that resemble miniaturized test tubes.


Affymetrix received US Patent No. 6,638,770, "Cleaning deposit devices that generate microarrays." The patent covers an apparatus for depositing an array of spots on a surface and includes a fluid source, a deposit device that includes a drop-carrying surface, and a cleaning device. The deposit device and a fluid source are cooperatively arranged to deposit a spot (usually created by a drop) on the receiving surface. The cleaning device is constructed and arranged to clean the drop-carrying surface by employing a flow of cleaning fluid or another cleaning matter such as small particles with the flow being arranged to prevent contaminating back flow.

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