Lab, Medical, Tubes

All About Well Plates

The rectangular multi-well plates are called Microplates or microtiter plates. These are used for a variety of assays, including ELISA and PCR. 96 well plates of industry-standard are used for different applications such as sample collection, compound preparation, combinatorial chemistry, high throughput screening, and bacterial culture growth, etc. 

The rows of plates are numbered and may include letters as well. You can refer to the notch in the upper right corner of a well plate to confirm correct orientation. These plates are available in different shapes and materials. Propylene or polystyrene materials, and flat or round bottoms are some of its variations. 

Different colors in these plates affect the background signal and fluorescence. Detailed analysis of the history, applications, and composition of these plates is mentioned below. 


Invention Of Microplates:

A Hungarian physician, scientist, and inventor, Gyula Takatsy developed the first-ever microplate in the early 1950s. This plate had twelve wells in six rows. They were hand machined by Dr. Taktsy.

The first of the plates was invented in Hungary after a severe outbreak of the influenza virus. During this period, the diagnostic testing was slow and needed to be hastened. Hence, well plates were invented to make the process easier and quicker.


Manufacturing Of Microplates:

The most common manufacturing process for polystyrene, propylene, and cyclo-olefin is injection moulding. For softer plastics like polycarbonate, volume forming is the method of choice. 


Complex plates or composite plates are filter plates, advanced PCR plates, and SPE plates. In such plates, the use of multiple components provides the best product. Each component is first moulded separately and then attached in an assembly of varying components to obtain the end result. 


Composition of Well Plates:

The most commonly used material in a microplate is polystyrene. There are various colour options as well, including white pigmented, black pigmented, and transparent. When performing a particular assay, it is essential to opt for the right color of the microplate. For detection of luminescence and optical absorbance, the ideal choice is a white pigmented microplate. On the other hand, black-pigmented microplates are more suitable for fluorescent biological assays. The optical characteristics of a transparent plate are very efficient, and it can also be utilized for cell cultures and storage as well.

Polystyrene is the material that offers the most ideal physical characteristics in a microplate. It can withstand different temperatures applied in various laboratory settings. The material can handle cold temperatures up to -112 Fahrenheit, as well as the varying heat in a thermal heating cycle. They can hold chemical compounds without affecting their composition for long times and are, hence, used for storage reasons as well. 

There are other types of materials used in microplate construction. These include polycarbonate, glass, quartz, and cyclo-olefins (propylene). However, polystyrene is the most common among them all. 


Standard Research Tool:

Well plates are utilized as a standard tool in clinical diagnostic testing laboratories. It is used as an analytical research tool and contains multiple wells to hold testing samples or objects. A microplate’s wells can hold up to tens of nanolitres to several millimeters of liquid. Research laboratories frequently use microplates due to their versatility and ease of use.


Applications Of Microplates:

Microplates have made diagnostic testing and DNA sequencing quite feasible. Recently, the COVID-19 outbreak generated awareness about PCR plates. Rapid PCR test results helped in making the diagnostic process faster. 

The applications of microplates spread across a wide network of science fields.  They can be used in virology, serology, microbiology, drug discovery and other life sciences. The use and application of the plates is quite simple as well. Labs across the world stock this cost-effective tool to make various laboratory procedures possible. The time and money of the researcher and lab is saved through this useful tool. 

In short, well plates have revolutionized laboratory testing. It is basically a tray containing several wells for holding samples or extracts. They are commonly manufactured in a 2:3 rectangular mix and contain 96, 384 or 1536 wells. However, other less common configurations are also available. 

The most commonly used among these configurations is the 96 well-skirted plate. You can stock them for your laboratory through Molecular Biology Products. They can be used manually, but are also compatible with automated equipment. So buy them now before the stock ends!


  1. 96-well microplates. Biocompare. (n.d.). Retrieved December 7, 2021, from 
  2. Jaquith, K. (2014, March 27). What is a well plate? Retrieved December 7, 2021, from 

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