Oligo Assembler Prototype
The Oligo Assembly Prototype was built for Blue Heron Biosystems, to prototype a new oligo creation process. Oligos are precursors to DNA and are used to fabricate custom sequences.
The prototype was intended to demonstrate feasiblity of the process, in preparation for scaling it up to full production.
Each oligo takes multiple steps to create, using a combination of chemicals. After each addtion, the excess is collected through vacuum, applied to a frit. The process is conducted in an inert atmosphere, and the prototype was constructed to support inerting.
The process is based on a micro-dispensing valve, which uses a ruby tip to precisely dispense microliters. To achieve this, the dispensing controller is required to actuate the value for only a few milliseconds at a time, with the actual dispensing time preset by the program.
Mechanically, except for the micro dispensing values, the system was very straightforward to create. However, on the software side, we attempted to give their development team a very flexible solution.
The process was built around a recipe tree, where each branch could be customized to create the desired base pair. The tree was generated from a preset template of recipes, combine with the desired sequence.