What is a Microplate Reader?
A microplate reader is a device that is used to detect chemical, biological or physical reactions by measuring emitted light. Scientists in the life sciences, and pharmaceutical industries strive to improve routine laboratory processes and efficiency by using products or instruments able to handle samples in minutes or even seconds. A microplate reader helps to minimize operational time and to save costs, allowing researchers to dedicate more time to data analysis and generation of actionable insights.
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Microplate Reader Working Principle / How do Plate Readers work?
A microplate reader detects light emitted by samples which have been pipetted into a microplate. Emission of light in these samples is the result of a biological, chemical, biochemical or physical reaction. Depending on this, different detection modes are defined. Absorbance, fluorescence intensity and luminescence are the most popular and most frequently used in laboratories worldwide. Additionally, advanced modes such as fluorescence polarisation, time-resolved fluorescence and AlphaScreen® are also available.
In a microplate reader, the light signal is measured by a detector, usually a photomultiplier tube (PMT). PMTs convert photons into electricity that is then quantified by the microplate reader. The output of this process is numbers by which the intensity of light emitted by a sample is quantified.
Depending on the nature of the light-producing reaction and consequently on the detection mode, samples may need to be excited by light at specific wavelengths. This light is usually provided by a broad band xenon flash lamp. In order to allow excitation of the sample only by specific wavelengths, the light produced by the lamp is selected by a specific excitation filter. To increase sensitivity and specificity, filters are equally employed on the emission/detection side. These are usually placed between the sample and the detector.
In the case of luminescence detection, light is produced by biochemical reactions and an excitation light is not required.
What is a microplate reader used for?
A microplate reader is used for the quantification of several biological and chemical assays. Light-emitting dyes and reagent kits are usually employed to convert a reaction into light and quantify it with the plate reader.
Nowadays, the availability of a plethora of reagent kits enables the exploitation of a microplate reader in different fields. Besides biological, biochemical and pharmaceutical research both in academic and industrial environments, plate readers are also used in environmental research, and in the food or cosmetics industry.
Scientists in the life sciences, pharmaceutical industries, etc. strive to improve routine laboratory processes and efficiency by using products or instruments able to handle samples in minutes or even seconds. A microplate reader helps to minimize operational time and to save costs, allowing researchers to dedicate more time to data analysis and generation of actionable insights.
BMG LABTECH plate readers can be equipped with different detection modes and cover a multitude of applications. By focusing on the needs of the scientific community, our plate readers have earned the company the reputation of being a technology leader in the field.
Single-mode vs. multi-mode microplate reader
Our microplate readers range from single-detection mode plate readers (e. g. fluorometers or luminometers) up to multi-mode readers with up to seven detection modes. Common detection modes for microplate reader assays are absorbance, fluorescence intensity, luminescence, time-resolved fluorescence, TR-FRET, fluorescence polarization, AlphaScreen® and nephelometry. Based on the type and the number of detection modes a microplate reader is classified in different categories. Find a list of these categories, showing the compatible BMG LABTECH microplate readers here below.
Microplate reader categories
Multi-mode microplate readers can be equipped with up to seven detection modes. The modular set-up of these plate readers allows you to select only the detection modes that suit your needs today - with the option to add others in the future if and when required.
BMG LABTECH was the first manufacturer to equip their microplate reader with a UV/vis spectrometer for high-performance and full spectrum absorbance measurements. Our fast, powerful UV/visible spectrometer allows you to measure a full absorbance spectrum in less than 1 second per well. Two of our instruments are specifically dedicated to absorbance detection: The SPECTROstar® Nano can measure both microplates and cuvettes, whereas the SPECTROstar® Omega offers the option to upgrade to additional detection modes at any time.
Our microplate fluorometers allow for a sensitive and precise detection of any fluorescence intensity assays. The filter-based FLUOstar Omega is the ideal multi-mode microplate reader for life science applications.
A dedicated microplate luminometer for highly sensitive flash and glow assay measurements. The LUMIstar Omega is DLReady-certified and can be upgraded to a multi-detection microplate reader should your needs change.
The first and only laser-based microplate nephelometer. The NEPHELOstar Plus is ideal for fast, high-throughput compound solubility screenings and a wide range of turbidity measurements, from microbial growth to petroleum process control.
Different microplate reader accessories help to enhance the performance of your microplate reader, from stackers to increase throughput, to atmospheric control units for live cell-based assays.
Find below an overview about some of our special pages.