An Assessment of the Volumetric Performance of the The MANTIS® Liquid Handler Using the Artel MVS® Multichannel Verification System


Since the inception of the variable volume pipette in the 1960s, researchers have been sacrificing the precision of their liquid transfers for ease of use, efficiency, and speed. However, a new trend towards decreasing reaction volumes in genomics laboratories has called into question the capabilities of various liquid handling solutions, especially since lower volumes tend to increase the impact of liquid handling imprecision on experimental results. With precision medicine and drug discovery relying so heavily on the findings published by translational genomics laboratories in academia and biotechnology, the reproducibility of data has never been so salient and highly scrutinized.

Today, researchers generally regard automated workstations as the most reproducible liquid handling solutions, as automated liquid handling (ALH) systems remove many of the obstacles associated with user-variability. Researchers assess the volumetric performance of these devices mainly by measuring the imprecision of liquid transfers, expressed quantitatively through coefficients of variation (CVs). ALH platforms often dispense extremely precisely, and published CVs for target liquid deliveries in the range of tens to hundreds of microliters (μL) tend to be less than 1%. However, for most ALH systems these specifications deteriorate as target volumes approach 1 μL. In fact, the most widely utilized liquid handling platforms publish specifications including CVs as high as 6% at 0.5 μL(Table 1). FORMULATRIX® and Artel present this application note in order to showcase the precision of the MANTIS® Liquid Handler, a novel solution designed to supplement traditional liquid handling platforms. By implementing the MANTIS, researchers can increase experimental reproducibility in genomics workflows that involve dispensing small volumes of valuable reagents with a high degree of precision.

At the core of the MANTIS is a patented microfluidic valve cluster that measures and dispenses discrete volumes of liquid (Figure 1). Pressure and vacuum open and close each valve on the silicone valve cluster. The positive displacement chips have two micro diaphragms that can fill and dispense as rapidly as 10 times per second. The low volume (LV) chips contain 0.1 and 0.5 μL diaphragms, while the high volume (HV) chips contain 1 and 5 μL diaphragms. The Continuous Flow (CF) chip utilizes a distinct valve based technology that allows for dispensing of volumes from 5 μL to 2000 μL in a continuous stream.

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