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Automation of Correlative Optical Tweezers-Fluorescence Microscopy Experiments

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CTFMAUTOMATION (Automation of Correlative Optical Tweezers-Fluorescence Microscopy Experiments)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2018-08-31

Dynamical molecular processes lie at the basis of life and disease. The ability to manipulate and observe single molecule processes in real-time is crucial for our understanding of these complex molecular processes. Lumicks has brought to market the C-Trap: the first an instrument that enables simultaneous manipulation, force measurement and imaging of complex single molecule behavior. This instrument is used for breakthrough science in over 20 institutes worldwide. At the start of the CTFMAUTOMATION project expert biophysical knowledge was required to successfully operate the C-Trap and to interpret the experimental data.
The objectives of the project where to greatly simplify the operation of the instrument by the development of automated procedures for calibration, alignment, performance monitoring and standard experiments. The project has helped us to achieve high levels of automation and greatly improved ease-of-use. This has contributed greatly to our mission of unlocking single-molecule measurements so that they can be used by a much wider audience of biologists and pharmaceutical companies.
During the project the associate has developed many protocols and prototype implementations for automated alignment and calibration of the C-Trap. This has resulted in more robust and easier operation of the C-Trap. Most of the developments have rolled directly into our new Bluelake C-Trap control software platform. The project has lead to: easier alignment of force detection optics, better spatial correlation between trap position and fluorescence images, easier force calibration, easier flow cell navigation, more accurate power control, automated alignment monitoring. Next to automated alignment and calibration the project has also focussed on automation of experiments. We now have the ability to perform a full single molecule experiment consisting of catching a molecule, aligning the fluorescence imaging, stretching to desired force and recording fluorescence images without user intervention. The feedback we received from customers on the improved ease of use and the automation capabilities has been extremely positive.
The project has enabled LUMICKS to be the first company to sell user-friendly instruments that can perform fully automated single molecule manipulation and imaging experiments. By unlocking the broader biology and pharma markets our instruments will lead to highly impactful advances in both fundamental and pharmaceutical research.