[DIYbio] Cheap capillary electrophoresis

Hi to all.
I shared this with my local group (DIYPerthBioHackers), but I thought it might be of more general interest.


I'm a protein man myself, with relatively little interest in that other conformationally boring thing, whose acronym could stand for Dont kNow Anything ! However, the world has moved on, and I am interested in dragging myself out of the Jurassic.

Capillary electrophoresis seems like such a good fit for DIY bio: No gel media, cheap sybase dyes, good possibility for optical detection. I thought I would have a go, and this video is my report of my first efforts.

I note that Raspberry Pi 3 will run java and ImageJ quite well. I also note that a close magnifier can be made out of a 40x objective lens and a pi camera. A script to grab a frame per second, and then count coloured pixels using imageJ would give you a count of stained DNA, or even fluorescently labelled versions of the same, if your home made pcr was good enough to try sequencing.

The power supply shown here is sub $5 (or was when I bought it), glass capillaries are easy enough to pull, and silanisation is possible to minimise DNA sticking to glass if this is an issue.

As I said, I D(on't) kN(ow) A(nything) about the big boring molecule and its chemistry, except to note in passing that it is no longer referred to as sodium thymonucleate, which was on the only bottle of the stuff I ever owned!  I would appreciate any advice as to the feasibility of my idea.

I guess if my DNA ideas are crap, I could always try and re-purpose the design for a little electroosmotic pump and a little HPLC - now I'm getting into more familiar territory !


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