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'Labor der Zukunft' -- Tomorrow's laboratory technology
Date:3/2/2012

borious report. "Usually, samples are accompanied by a report slip," says Daniel Schmitt, project leader for the IBMT. Alternatively, the lab will know to expect a sample when it receives an e-mail containing all the necessary information. "With test tube chips, the sample and the information are inseparably linked, and there is no way for information to go astray."

The IBMT researchers have since combined the chip with a tiny data antenna, as used in RFID tags, to allow close-range radio communication. This is particularly useful for biological samples, which are stored inside steel containers full of ice-cold nitrogen. Since opening these containers risks allowing heat and moisture to enter, they are best kept shut. The antennas make it possible to query the test tube chips from the outside to see which samples are in storage at any given time meaning the steel casing is no barrier to inventory.

New software to manage processes

Some blood samples have to travel a long way. One example is samples of blood infected with HIV that are sent from Africa to be used in AIDS research. "This is an area where automatic data storage is very helpful," says Schmitt. Of course, no automated laboratory would be complete without software to manage the analysis process. Researchers at the IBMT worked together with Soventec GmbH to develop the LabOS laboratory management system. Thanks to LabOS, as soon as a test tube is placed in a reader, a screen displays data on the sample's history and also what the next steps are. With not a scrap of paperwork in sight.

Accessing lab apparatus over the Internet

Currently, the operation of lab equipment is still in the hands of technicians, but in future this too is set to become automated. To this end, a network system was developed at the IBMT in collaboration with the Technische Universitt Braunschweig to connect all apparatus to a central control point. This "smallCAN" bus system, wh
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Contact: Daniel Schmitt
daniel.schmitt@ibmt.fraunhofer.de
49-689-498-0120
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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