Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Simple micro plate well design for loading of rare cells to observable area with high efficiency for microscopy

Technology #cu12297

Lead Inventor: Lance Kam, Ph.D.

Tech Ventures Reference: IR CU12297

Current microscopy techniques require large volumes of cells, of which only a small number are in the observable area (as low as 0.1% of the starting amount). This is especially challenging in the study of rare cell populations, where maximal recovery of cells to the observational area is critical. This technology is a custom designed cell culture well, which maximizes cell recovery to an observational area. The well is angled towards the bottom which leads to a small, flat, observational area. The cells do not adhere to the angled well as they settle and instead attach to the flat region. A small ridge can also keep cells from settling on this flat region until agitated, allowing for simultaneous population of the flat region with cells.

Concentrating cells to a specific, pre-determined area of a well allows for observation and experimentation on rare cell populations.

As the search for cellular biomarkers and adult stem cell populations advances, tools necessary to study these rare cell populations are required. However, current microscopy techniques hinder this research as they require a large amount of dead space, an area which cannot be observed by the microscope. The current technology provides a simple, cheap solution to concentrating a small number of cells in a large volume of media to an observable area which can easily be found with existing microscopes. The conical bottom can be designed with common, non-adhering plastics such as polystyrene. This allows for microscopic observation of even very small numbers of cells without losing the majority of the starting amount of cells and makes investigation of rare cell populations easier and more efficient.


  • Microscopic study of rare cell populations.
  • Observation of initial moments of cell adhesion to varying surfaces.
  • Expanded to micro plates for high-throughput screening requiring less reagents and cells.


  • Easy to manufacture.
  • Simple, easy concentration without filters, centrifuges or electronics
  • Works with existing microscopy solutions.

Patent information:

Patent Pending

Licensing Status: Available for licensing and sponsored research support