Several years ago, while I was working at life science laboratory I had to routinely prepare samples of RNA, DNA, Protein, etc. Many of these samples were temperature sensitive, and get ruined if kept at room temperature. I had very difficult time dealing with tiny 0.2 ml clear PCR tubes containing RNA and PCR mix kept on ice in an icebucket. It was very difficult to add or retrieve samples from the tiny tubes placed on ice. Most of the time it was difficult to keep the tubes straight. If the ice is partly melted, the tubes will float in the bucket. I had to deal with this problem for a long time and was very frustrated. I knew there has to be a better and efficient way to do this. After brainstorming I came up with the solution. I designed a Metal Chamber for 0.2 ml Tubes where 0.2 ml PCR tubes, strips or trays will fit nicely on the pre-made cavities. I placed the whole metal chamber on a cooling chamber or ice bucket. The tubes placed on the metal chamber was straight, organized, and even when some of the ice melted the tubes did not float in the ice bucket. The benefits of using the solid metal chamber are as follows:
- You can manage tiny 0.2 ml, 0.5 ml tubes, strips or trays easily on the metal block.
- The tubes can be arranged in an organized fashion, and easy to identify each sample.
- Because the metal surrounding the sample tubes are cold, the whole sample stays cold. In the ice bucket, if there is an air pocket, the sample may not be completely or evenly cold.
- It is easy to transfer metal chamber with samples from ice bucket to refrigerator, and back to bench top.
- The metal chamber can also be used to heat the sample by placing it on a hot plate.
- Since the chamber is solid aluminium, it conducts heat and cold instantly, and the whole sample tubes get chilled quickly.
- The Chiller blocks functions as good platform surface to organize the samples.
Besides Chiller blocks designed for 96 well plates, we have designed blocks for 1.5 ml – 2ml eppendorph tubes, 5 ml tubes, and even chiller blocks for petridish.
The chill block for 0.2 ml PCR tubes or trays can also be placed on a cooling box ( Pioneer Scientific – CoolPod). The chiller block will be kept cold by a cool pack inside the CoolPod. This cool pack can keep the samples cold for 4-6 hours without any ice. If you need to keep the samples longer, just replace the cool pack contained in the CoolPod with another cool pack and you can get another 4-6 hours. Coolpod, and Thermopod have small footprint and can be easily carried.
Another very useful chill block is the Step Tube Holder (SSTH). This block is designed with tiers to hold 1.5 ml to 2 ml centrifuge tubes. If you are working with large number of tubes in an assay, it is ideal to place the tubes on these chiller blocks on ice, because one can easily see different tubes at once. It is a great way to arrange the reagent tubes when adding or removing samples from large number of tubes during an assay.
Another very versatile chill block is PSMC90. This is a large chamber with the capacity of 90 X 1.5 ml – 2 ml tubes. This gives a large capacity for sample tubes. This chill block can be placed on a rectangular ice bucket to keep the samples cold. Pioneer Scientific also offers a variety of other metal chill blocks for 15 ml and 50 ml centrifuge tubes.
By using these metal chill blocks in combination with ice, one can work with samples of any size or type very efficiently and in a well organized fashion. These blocks can also be used to heat samples on a heat block.