One of the overarching trends for Life Sciences has been the need for biocompatible materials and processes. For analytical and diagnostic systems, the word biocompatibility refers to the interaction between any component in the system and the biological sample. The biocompatibility of an instrument depends on several factors, including:
- the chemical and physical nature of its component materials
- the types of samples that will be exposed to the device
- the duration of that exposure
Of course, the primary purpose of providing biocompatibility is to assure the sample is protected from contamination and not physically altered as part of the analysis process. Depending on the environment that that sample is exposed to, high pressures, high temperatures, small volumes, reagents etc. the materials chosen for the fluid path are critical to providing a contamination free analysis. It is well known that stainless steel can be detrimental to biological samples due to the availability of free metal ions that can contaminate the sample.
Therefore some system designs may use titanium or ceramic components to eliminate the presence of metal ion contaminants. In other designs the flow path may be minimized with the use of specially designed and fabricated polymer manifolds which can provide for a shorter exposure time for the sample.