Monday, February 9, 2009

Aria to Aria II upgrade...Painful, but worth it

Well that took way longer than expected. A two and a half day estimate went into its 5th day last friday. If anything could have gone wrong, it did. The procedure was going really well for the first two days, and then came the software. Why is it that whenever a problem occurs it always involves software glitches? Needless to say, it was a very frustrating afternoon on Thursday when we were completely stuck until the software started working properly. But, after some hard work and perseverance we finally got things up and running. We were able to start sorting on Friday, and to tell the truth, once we started, it became clear why we went through the trouble in the first place. The Aria started up so smoothly, and ran without a hiccup. You really can just pop in the nozzle and bam, the droplets just fall right into position. If you've ever tried to put the old-style nozzles in an Aria I (or had to use the wretched gold plated nozzles), then you'll really appreciate how easy it is on the Aria II. We've been running mostly with the 85um tip and have come to really appreciate that size. The 70um tip is good for going fast, but if the sample prep is not perfect, and the sample size homogenous and small, you get small jumps in the side streams which can really affect purity and yield. The 85um tip provides just enough room to still go pretty fast, and it's able to handle some junk too. The other thing that is instantly evident once you walk into the room is just how quiet the instrument is. The Aria I sounded like a rocket was taking off constantly, but now it's so quiet it's almost a little erie. Lastly, the charge plates are really nice. 4-way sorting is not even an issue any longer. In fact, the voltage sometimes is a bit too high so we've had to lower it to avoid hitting the plates with the side streams. So far, we've been really impressed with the performance of the instrument. One thing we're eager to get a feel for is how easy it is to keep clean. The jury is still out on that one, but we'll keep a close eye on it for sure.