by Justin Croft and Michael Rau, 06 October 2022
Our smart, easy-entry letterbox-style transfer hatch is optimized for practicality. We engineered this system to save researchers time and effort, without compromising environment stability when moving items into or out of the HypoxyLab. The easy-entry hatch does away with the traditional ‘airlock’ transfer hatch, dramatically simplifying day to day use.
The traditional ‘airlock’ transfer hatch traces its origins to anoxic workstations used in microbiology. Here the slightest contamination by gaseous oxygen has major unwanted experimental repercussions. A user places into the airlock the item they wish to introduce into the side-mounted airlock and must wait until its atmosphere is fully purged of oxygen, before opening an internal partition to pass the item into the main chamber. It’s an approach that makes sense in the microbiology field but is overkill for the life scientist working with mammalian cells, adding cost, unwanted nitrogen consumption, and inconvenience.
The HypoxyLab automatically senses when items are passed through the hatch, temporarily generating a slight over-pressure to prevent ingress of external atmosphere. This immediate response ensures that oxygen concentrations within the chamber remain stable during operation of the easy-entry hatch. An internal flap acts as an additional barrier, protecting the internal environment even while the exterior hatch door is open. The design makes the movement of items into or out of the HypoxyLab a job of a few seconds, dramatically enhancing day to day convenience. All while bringing down the complexity, cost and indeed the laboratory footprint of the overall device.
As evidenced in the video above the set point barely shifts when the easy-entry hatch is opened to either remove or to place items into the HypoxyLab. The observed deflection of 2 mmHg equates to approx. 0.25% oxygen, which is quickly corrected. Given that the diffusion of oxygen into culture media occurs on a scale of tens of minutes, this minor and transient affect on the internal oxygen concentration is utterly negligible at the cell level.