The VCM® or „Vapor Chamber Mount“ technology (patent pending) is based on heat pipe technology and is as such a further development of a standard 1D heatpipe (usually used in laptop computers) and a flat 2D vapor chamber.
The VCM® is the first 3D heat pipe used as a super-conductive disposable carrier/mount for thermal cyclers, which enables true ZERO well-to-well uniformity with 96 and 384 plates in PCR and high-performance sample temperature control.
Similar to heat pipes, the VCM® technology uses evaporation, condensation and capillary transport of a working fluid inside the mount to improve steady-state heat transfer 7 times higher compared to massive silver components (VCM® thermal conductivity >3000 [W/mk], silver ca. 430 [W/mK]).
The increase in performance of the transient heat transfer is even bigger: it is a staggering 13 times higher compared to massive silver components (conductibility of temperature VCM® > 2300 [10-6 m2/s], silver ca. 174 [10-6 m2/s]).
A heat pipe works principally in one dimension, transferring the heat from the “hot” end of the pipe to the cold end. A vapor chamber works in the same way in two dimensions, spreading the heat in a plane in x and y direction.
The VCM® developed by INHECO enables true 3-dimensional heat transfer, creating a super-conductive thermal interface between the heating/cooling peltier elements of a thermal cycler and the cones of a 96 or 384 well PCR micro plate.
Thermal cyclers with VCM® technology offer superior well-to-well uniformity and reduced cycle time by improved transient behavior, compared to cyclers with aluminum or silver mounts.
- The total thermal capacity of the VCM® is reduced due to its hollow structure. Reduced thermal capacity allows to increase the speed during heating and cooling ramps.
- The transition between heating and cooling ramps and plateaus during typical PCR cycles is much quicker. The final and stable well-to-well uniformity on a plateau is reached within one or two seconds, compared to up to 15 seconds with current silver mounts.
Based on the actual performance of the VCM®, standard PCR 30cycles (1x denaturation step, 1x annealing step, 1x elongation step per cycle) in 20 minutes are reachable (96 well format, depending on reaction kinetics of the kit used).
The outstanding thermal parameters are also the key enablers for other unique features of VCM® based cyclers:
- Non-symmetric loading of wells does not change the excellent well-to-well temperature uniformity.
- Opening and closing of the lid has nearly no measureable impact on well-to-well temperature uniformity, so pipetting and sampling during a PCR run is supported.
- Well-to-well temperature uniformity is not depending on the absolute temperature anymore.
This means that the plateau temperature uniformity is not increasing from 55°C to 72°C and 95°C, but stays more or less the same.
The cost structure of the VCM® is dominated by process costs, which are scalable with quantity. Compared to silver mounts, material costs can be neglected. At higher quantities the VCM® will therefore be cheaper than a massive silver mount.