National Science Foundation-funded researchers at Rice University have created the first low-cost, easy-to-use optogenetics hardware platform that biologists who have little or no training in engineering or software design can use to incorporate optogenetics testing in their labs. Rice’s Light Plate Apparatus (LPA) is described in a paper available for free online this week in the open-access journal Scientific Reports. The LPA, which was created in the lab of Jeffrey Tabor, assistant professor of bioengineering, uses open-source hardware and software. The apparatus can deliver two independent light signals to each well in a standard 24-well plate and has sockets that accept LEDs of wavelengths ranging from blue to far red. Total component costs for the LPA are less than $400--$150 for labs with a 3-D printer--and each unit can be assembled and calibrated by a nonexpert in one day.
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