The Multiplex Chemotyping Microarray performs rapid chemical analyses of prospective biofuel crops and microbial communities by combining high-throughput micro-contact printing technology with high-fidelity vibrational spectroscopy and mass spectrometry.
Applicable to many different fields of scientific research, the MCM generates collections of microscopic biomolecule or particle assemblies accurately and reproducibly. It enables rapid chemical analyses of prospective biofuel plants and microbial communities. Its ability to rapidly identify the chemical composition and biological function in plant and animal cells is unparalleled. It enables precise deposition of samples and the detection of multiple chemicals within each sample at a throughput rate more than two orders of magnitude beyond existing methods. Samples can include plant particles, airborne particulates, and soil particles. It also includes microbes with sample volumes down to 10 picoliters, and mixtures of proteins or heterogeneous biomolecules with dimensions smaller than 50 nanometers.
This technology can be applied to a variety of fields such as biofuels, microbial ecological investigation, and medical research. In biofuel applications, the MCM is allowing researchers to begin determining how specific genes control cell-wall composition. In microbial community screening research, it has enabled unprecedented nondestructive chemical fingerprinting of the microbial community. In medical research, its rapid identification of the deep structure of fibrous protein aggregates (that potentially enhance HIV infectivity) have made it an essential part of the overall strategy for neutralizing the HIV infection. In short, the MCM, wherever it has been applied, has achieved a never-before-realized fundamental, chemical, molecular understanding of the scientific challenge being confronted.
The MCM was one of three 2014 LBNL winners of this coveted award, given annually by R&D Magazine to, in their own words, “identify and celebrate the top technology products of the year… [spanning] industry, academia, and government-sponsored research.”