Basic Guidelines About Multimode Microplate Readers

A microplate reader detecting two or more applications is considered a multimode plate reader. Typically, the system can detect absorbance, luminescence, and fluorescence and even make more specialized fluorescence measurements like time-resolved fluorescence (TRF) and fluorescence polarization (FP).

It is commonly used in biological research for assay development, measurement of biomolecule concentration, cell biology, biomarker research, and DNA quantification. In addition, microplate readers find use in disease studies, IVF, proteomics, PCR setup, and stem cell research. With multiple read modes available and numerous accessories, choosing a microplate reader that meets your current and future needs can prove daunting.

What is a multimode microplate reader?

Multimode microplate readers are used in various research fields to quantify multiple biological and chemical assays in microplates. These essays span a wide wavelength range, typically from 220–900 nm, in different detection methods (usually absorption, fluorescence and luminescence). They are extraordinarily complex devices, visually speaking. Using other technologies, they must effectively cover a wide range of detection methods.

How to choose the best multimode microplate reader?

The primary considerations when choosing a microplate reader are throughput and flexibility. In labs where throughput is a top priority, an instrument that can screen 96- to 1536-well microplates in one minute is essential. Suppose flexibility becomes vital in a growing lab supporting various projects. In that case, the decision may come down to whether a multimode reader’s additional capabilities meet the lab’s needs.

Additionally, user experience and benefits such as ease of use and optimization functions, as well as integrated software and built-ins, can offset the additional costs.

With the goal of performing high volumes of biochemical or pharmacological tests and achieving maximum efficiency, high-throughput screening or sample testing should be rapid, minimize sample consumption, and have a prominent level of sensitivity. Maintain. Microplate readers can play an influential role in an experiment’s success, making tracking targets more difficult to identify quickly and reproducibly. Evaluating throughput requirements can directly aid in plate format and device decisions, such as whether a monochromator, hybrid, or laser detector is most beneficial.

Another important consideration is the test types and instrument flexibility. Will you be running simple quantitation assays, or are there plans to experiment with multiple types of requirements, such as for basic facilities? The types of assays dictate which methods are required.

Methods such as absorbance, fluorescence, and luminescence are frequently used in laboratories worldwide. Still, advanced techniques may be preferred depending on the application, including fluorescence polarization or time-resolved fluorescence. Flexibility is vital if multiple types of assays are run. Multimode devices provide the flexibility to run various applications on a single machine.

Considering the user experience and additional features,

Be sure to focus on current needs and potential growth. Easy-to-use instruments have more automation, such as wavelength selection, optimization, and built-in protocols with integrated software. More complex workflows and high-throughput assays may benefit from a more comprehensive workstation setup.

The latest iterations of readers have modular configurations, where the primary device can be customized to fit different user levels and with upgradeable options.


Multimode microplate readers with the highest sensitivity allow you to read much lower signal intensities and achieve the best resolution of signals within your assay window. This is essential if your negative and positive controls are close together. A susceptible instrument is required to identify changes between positive and negative controls.


Multimode microplate readers capable of high-speed detection are recommended for high-throughput screening, measuring hundreds of high-density plates (384, 1536, and 3456 well plates) per day. However, a higher temporal resolution may also be required to resolve immediate kinetic events such as protein-protein interactions, drug binding, or other messenger cell signaling.

In addition, speed is also beneficial if you need to increase the number of data points in a given time (e.g. quantitatively measure the Ca2-transient in cardiac tissue).


If your research is based on different technologies and requires running multiple applications in parallel, or if your needs change over time, a reader that provides various options is recommended. The possibility to switch and combine detection technologies, easily switch between up and down readings or change wavelengths in the detection based on absorbance, luminescence, and fluorescence is recommended.


Consider a modular multimode microplate reader with the option to upgrade at later time points. Upgradeable multimode microplate readers can meet your current and future testing needs by growing with your lab needs and supporting new projects and application changes. It can also fulfill. What is more, modular multimode microplate readers save you money because they allow laboratories to buy only what they need at the time. If additional features or detection methods are necessary, the device can be upgraded at any time.

Environmental control

If you want to run live-cell-based assays for long periods and avoid moving your plate back and forth between a multimode microplate reader and an incubator, make sure your preferred reader controls its internal gas environment.

Upgrade options:

Recent developments are increasing the speed and sensitivity of microplate assays and introducing automation for more straightforward operations. Some multimode readers require manual adjustment of PMT gain voltages to optimize sample signals. Other readers have automated the dynamic range selection for easier and quicker assay setup.


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