Improvements in lab processes for the pharmaceutical industry are only possible through the utilisation of applications that can detect samples in seconds. Multi-mode microplate readers can do such tasks and have been around for almost 20 years. These readers have always been widely used by pharma and academic laboratories, but the latest developments have meant that they can now offer up to 13 different read modes rather than just 5. The next generation microplate readers come with many user-friendly features, including autofocus and laser detectors. Thanks to the recent improvements in these readers, not only their detection speed has increased, but the upgradable options are also automated for easier operation and workflow.

What Exactly is a Microplate Reader?

Microplate readers are devices that are used to detect physical, chemical, or biological reactions by measuring the produced light. Pharmaceutical industries are always aiming to improve routine lab efficiencies by using instruments or devices that can handle samples in minutes – or even seconds. Microplate readers help reduce operational time, thus saving costs. This way, the lab researchers can dedicate more time to analysing data and generating insights. These plates can provide sample readings of up to 1536 wells, although the most common values measured in samples are usually up to 96 wells.

How do Microplate Readers Work?

The light emitted by the lab samples that have been placed on a microplate is detected by a microplate reader. The light emission in such samples is due to the chemical, biochemical, or physical reaction. The most frequently used and popular modalities in pharmaceutical labs are fluorescence intensity, absorbance, and luminescence. While some multi-mode readers need manual adjustment of voltages to maximise sample signals for cost-saving reasons, they can result in over-saturation of the signal. The latest-generation readers are automated with dynamic range mode for faster and easier sample reading based on the intensity of the signal, thus being able to read even the dimmest or brightest samples.

Choosing the Right Microplate Reader

There are some important considerations to be considered when choosing the right microplate reader. In pharmaceutical labs, devices that can read between 96 and 1536 microplates in less than a minute are highly useful. Additionally, a reader must be user-friendly with optimised functions as well as integrated software in order to run smoothly. Although the most popular used modalities are luminescence, fluorescence, and absorbance, there are other types of multi-mode devices that provide better flexibility for running a variety of different applications. For example, the latest-generation readers tend to have smart configurations that can be customised with lots of upgradable options.