How long can FluidFM probes be used?
How long/How often can FluidFM probes be used?
The short answer
Between 1 experiment and several weeks.
The long answer
The lifetime of a FluidFM probe depends greatly on the experimental conditions, as well as on the applied filling, cleaning, and storage protocols.
Overall, it is important, that the users are in control of the challenges posed by their own experiments. Indeed, a deep knowledge of phenomena at the micro- and nano-scale involved in your experiment allows for better formulation of loading solution recipe, correct choice of protective coatings and correct storage protocol.
Inexperienced users we recommend to adhere to the standard protocols given by Cytosurge when handling, cleaning and storing the probes.
This way FluidFM probes can often be used for several experimental sessions and the lifetime varies between a few hours and one month.
Nonetheless, we do not recommend using the same probe for more than 1 month and remind that it is not possible to exchange or renew the liquid loaded in a FluidFM probe.
Critical factors: Drying out and biofilms
A FluidFM probe mostly stops working because it gets clogged due to the following two reasons:
Drying out. A previously immersed probe is always at risk of clogging, once exposed to air. Thus keep it in liquid whenever possible and make sure the probe reservoir also does not dry out.
Biofilm formation. Bacteria are abundant even in very clean labs, during storage in liquid they form a biofilm on the probe and prevent further/meaningful measurements. Always clean a probe before storage and use appropriate antibiotics together with the storage solution.
Other factors which can limit the lifetime of a FluidFM probe are dirty or unstable suspensions, microscopic bubbles in the suspension, strongly acidic or corrosive operating environments, strong organic solvents, as well as inappropriate or exhausted coating.