Canon U.S. Life Sciences (CULS) conducts R&D and employs novel technology and instrumentation design in the area of nano-liter, continuous-flow DNA analysis. CULS engaged Key Tech to solve complex chip and instrument design challenges associated with their high throughput PCR and thermal melt assay. Key Tech collaborated with CULS engineers and scientists to design, fabricate, and test the microfluidic chip assembly and instrument, including electrical, mechanical, pneumatic, thermal, optical and fluidic subsystems.
Fully automated on-chip flow control using advanced real-time image analysis and fluorescence feedback was developed for use on the custom microfluidic chip assembly. Custom robotic pipettors for sample prep and introduction were designed to work in concert with a custom pumping system used to control the nano-fluidic volumes. A novel sample-reagent mixing technology was invented. Multiple component prototypes and parallel development paths for both the chip and instrument subsystems were employed to manage technical risk and maintain schedule. Key Tech concluded the effort with demonstrations of early versions of the integrated instrument.