PicoPipet Pick & Place System

Simplify Single Cell Isolation & Transfer

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Identify, capture and release any cell
The PicoPipet Pick & Place System simplifies the art of transferring a single cell from one location to another. Ideal for single cells or cell colonies, the PicoPipet can target any cell desired for capture and relocation. Simply place the end of microscopic disposable pipette tip next your target and gently increase the flow into the pipettor to create enough suction to carry the cell into the tip. Then hold the cell in the tip until it is repositioned to another slide, tube, or other vessel. Finally, reverse the flow and precisely position the cell as it is expelled from the end of the tip.

This novel approach has several benefits as compared with flow cytometry. First, the PicoPipet not only targets cultured cells, but also micro-organisms such as algae, fungi, yeast, parasites, protozoa, and more. In fact, it can be used for non-living objects such as microdrops, protein crystals, and metal particles. Second, the unique flow dynamics mitigates any contamination by moving an extremely small volume of media during transfer. Third, the flow is so gentle, even delicate or large cells can be transferred without rupturing. Fourth, the system is adaptable to many types of microscopes so targeting can be based upon fluorescence, morphology or other selection criteria. And lastly, the operation is spot-on simple. Just position the pipette, turn the dial or push the button for preset volumes for suction, reposition the tip and discharge. That’s it.

To further enhance the experience, we offer several accessories such as a joystick micro-manipulator to enhance precise positioning of the glass tip under a microscope. Our Z-Robo Robot automates vertical height for easy transferring. Finally, the Compass Microscope uses a unique pattern-projection imaging technology which offers greater contrast than conventional bright-field microscopy. The Compass is also equipped with a zoom lens and a video camera, so with this system, you can transfer a cell from one container to another while monitoring the entire process on screen.

MPP300 Configuration

Image from standard bright-field microscope

Image from Compass Video Microscope

It’s all about the flow
What makes the PicoPipet special? The tiny pump found at the base of picoliter-pipette. With this one-of-a-kind electro-osmotic pump, flow rates can be precisely set and instantly adjusted with absolutely no pulsation. Electro-osmotic flow is the same principle that is used in capillary electrophoresis, but in the case of the PicoPipet – the flow is “user set” to create negative and positive pressure at the tip of an extremely narrow bore micropipette. With a quick spin of the flow dial, the flow rates can be adjusted from 166 nl per second all the way down to 17 picoliters per second all with a quick spin of the control dial. The effortless control of this 10,000-fold range of flow rate can be halted in a blink of the eye to hold your target cell in the tip of the pipette so you never lose track of your specimen. When coupled to a micromanipulator and viewed under a microscope, the PicoPipet enables the pickup and delivery of tiny biological objects down to 5 microns in diameter with ease and precision.

How does it work?
The Pick and Place System makes it possible to transfer micro-targets, such as single cells, one by one from any cell culture vessel to any other location – all while observing the targets under a microscope. The system is based around the PicoPipet and allows intuitive operation and easy control of flow rates and flow directions of ultra-small volumes (picoliter range).

For example, below is a system set-up capable of picking up a single cell from a dish and relocating the single cell into a PCR tube.

In this video the MPP-300 version of the Micro Pick and Place System uses a straight-shaped glass micropipette (MPP1GT7510) to pick up blue beads (~70 um), one by one, and then release at a different location on the same slide, one by one, while observing the beads with the Compass video microscope.

In the next video the MPP-300Z automated version of the Micro Pick and Place Compass Z System simplifies the transfer of gel beads from a slide to a 0.2 ml PCR tube. In this case, Gel beads (about 10 um) are picked up one by one from a microscope slide and discharged into a PCR tube observing the beads with the Compass Z, Zrobo-mounted video microscope. The 8-strip tube and slide and placed within a specially designed holder (MPP1PCR) and an S-shaped glass micropipette (MPP1GTXXS5) is needed when transferring to deep wells such as PCR tubes.

In this next application the MPP-200Z version Micro Pick and Place Zrobo System is integrated with an existing inverted microscope at a customer’s lab. This video demonstrates how a straight-shaped glass micropipette (MPP1GTXX10) can be used to pick 50 micron blue beads from a slide and transfer to the inside of a 0.2ml PCR tube cap using the cap and slide holder (MPP1CAP).

In this last video, the same MPP-200Z Micro Pick and Place Zrobo System uses a small bore S-shaped to demonstrate how tiny 10 micron beads can be transferred from a slide to a well of a 96-well PCR plate quite easily when using the Zrobo Robot.

Configurations and Accessories

MPP200A Configuration

MPP200B Configuration

MPP200Z Configuration

Joystick Manipulator (shown with condensor clamp)

Magnetic Stand

ZROBO Z-axis robot



Systems without Mircoscope

Systems with Compass Mircoscope

Pipet Tips (Straight Shaped)

Pipet Tips (S-Shaped)

Pepet Tips (L-Shaped)

Flow Rate 1 nL/min to 10 µl/min
Output Settings Large Knob: 0.05/0.01 V increments

Small Knob: 0.25 V increments

Zero Set

+/- polarity

Jump set

Output Voltage Range -30 to +30 V
Input Power AC 100-240V 50/60Hz
Dimensions 18.7 x 12.4 x 4.6 cm (L x W x H) Controller Box
Weight 0.3 kg (pipet weighs 10g)
Operating Environment 5-40°C, 80% RH Max (non condensing)
Warranty 2 Year