Joanna Chen, Adriano Cuadros, Arianna Leon, Matthew A. Longmire, Stephen Lu, Eucebio Lopez, Edward Shelikoff
The Automated and Incubated Microplate (AIM) System is a microbioreactor which addresses the need for a comprehensive, user–independent incubation system. The AIM system can monitor the optical density and fluorescent intensity of culturing samples in well plates or sample tubes while regulating the gaseous environments, light intensity, temperature range, and liquid levels of the incubating media. The novelty of this device lies in its combination of the disparate capabilities of multiple pre–existing devices in a stand–alone manner that fits on laboratory benchtops while adding the ability to culture at extremophilic temperatures. The device is structured around an automated pipette and gripper system which prepares well plates and transports them to incubating, shaking, and analyzing environments. The device is designed to provide long–incubation, user–supplemented support for conical tube cultures. The assembly is facilitated by modularized aluminum framing and removable structures allowing for reliable sanitation for the culturing device. The modularized design also complements ease of assembly and accessibility for various laboratory spaces. Our team recognizes the challenges and limitations of creating a comprehensive device by establishing a Hedgehog Concept for the design: to create the most robust microbioreactor, maximize the automation of the culturing routines for microplates. In this, we recognize our passion for and expertise in controls engineering, developing an autonomous system that requires little user–involvement allowing researchers to allocate their time more efficiently.