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Biotech Life Science

How Electroporators Work & How We Can Save Your Lab Time & Money

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Electroporator equipment

Microbiology is home to a wide variety of specialized techniques, including electroporation.

Biotech diagram

Electroporation, less commonly referred to as electropermeabilization, is a physical transfection method that applies specific high-voltage electrical pulses to eukaryotic cells in a sample to increase the permeability of the cellular membrane. It is most commonly used in molecular biology research.

The technique is tremendously useful for allowing DNA, pDNA (plasmid DNA), RNA, mRNA (messenger RNA), RNPs (ribonucleoprotein), and proteins, as well as pharmaceuticals, and various chemicals to be introduced and integrated into the cell’s structure. Additionally, electroporation is also an excellent technique when difficult-to-transfect cells—primary and stem cells—are the target.

The appliances that were created to perform this process are called electroporators, or electroporation systems.

An electroporation cuvette, designed with a unique chamber specifically for maximum quality and convenience during electroporation, is used as the container for the sample. The cuvette generally has electrodes placed on its sides, which facilitate the current’s interaction with the sample inside. After the current has finished, a small volume of a liquid medium is added to the sample.

Medical & Laboratory Applications, Pulse Types, & More

An open hand with a DNA strand coming out of the palm

Electroporation systems are always used for biomedical applications, with many different industries capitalizing on these benefits to fulfill their specific needs. This includes medical, laboratory, animal studies, and more. As well, electroporators rely on a variety of pulse types to perform electroporation, some of which we will cover below.


The medical field has been using electroporation for years to research new methods of introducing medicine to cells. Unsurprisingly, much of this research has focused on cancer and tumors specifically. As stated, this technique uses intense, short bursts of electricity, which briefly causes permeability in the cell membrane and allows drugs or various molecules to be introduced into the cell.

This is referred to as electrochemotherapy when used with chemotherapeutic drugs, and is driving innovative research on methods to treat cancer.


Much of the applications that labs use electroporators for deal with bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms. By altering various cell types (mammalian cells, , allowing them to recover, and then culturing the samples, scientists can safely and reproducibly transform their microorganisms with a significantly higher efficiency than other methods.

The safety, ease of use, and convenient features can help researchers save time and minimize human error.

Animal Studies

Another intriguing application of this technique is to research its effect during in vivo and in vitro animal studies. One example of this regarded treating cutaneous malignant tumors in mice. This study used irreversible electroporation to ablate the tumors. The success rate was high, with 12 of 13 mice having their tumors completely ablated.

Many companies are continuing this research, and hopefully in years to come it can revolutionize the cutaneous tumor treatment process.

Pulse Types

Scientists and researchers can obtain better results by understanding the various pulse types. Electroporators often have a range of pulse settings that can include:

Exponential decay: the set voltage is released from the capacitor and decays rapidly and exponentially. It is characterized by two parameters—field strength and the time constant—which can be adjusted according to factors like voltage and capacitance. Exponential decay is great for transfection efficiency in many different cell types.

Time constant: this type of pulse is used to apply a constant pulse of set voltage for a specific period of time.

Square wave: this pulse is characterized by the voltage delivered, as well as the duration of the pulse and the number of pulses. The length of the interval between pulses is also pre-determined. Most traditional electroporators can be used to set these parameters.

The differences between each type is important because every cell has a unique, optimal field strength that is dependent on the pulse parameters applied. The application of field strength causes electropermeabilization through induction of transmembrane voltage, which is what allows nucleic acids to pass through the cell membrane.

Electricity & Cell Membranes

While using electricity to treat cells might seem like a more modern development for the scientific community, the idea of using an external electrical field to affect membranes was originally pitched in publications in the 1960s.

Approximately 10 years later, a variety of groups continuing this research found that if the potential energy used during the testing reached a critical level, the membrane would break down completely.

It took several more years to find an appropriate solution to this problem, but researchers eventually concluded that applying a short pulse of electricity would open pores in the membrane which could then be resealed, allowing the cells to survive the process.

This process changed from theoretical to applicable in the 1980s and has seen use and improvement since.

High Throughput Electroporation System Leases to Fit Every Lab’s Needs

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Founder-Friendly Leases

Our lease agreements are founder-friendly and flexible, helping you preserve working capital, strengthen the cash flow of your business, and keep business credit lines open for expansions, staffing, and other crucial operational expenses and business development opportunities.

2-5 Year Lease Lengths

Leases range from 2 to 5 years. Length will depend on several factors, including how long you want to use the equipment, equipment type, and your company’s financial position. These are standard factors leasing companies consider and help us tailor a lease agreement to fit your needs.

Your Choice of Manufacturer

We don’t carry an inventory. This means you’re not limited to a specific set of manufacturers. Instead, you can pick the equipment that aligns with your business goals and preferences. We’ll work with the manufacturer of your choice to get the equipment in your facility as quickly as possible.

Maintenance & Repair Coverage

Bundle preventive maintenance and repair coverage with your lease agreement. You can spread those payments over time. Easily maintain your equipment, minimize the chances something will break down, repair instrumentation quickly, and simplify your payment processes.

End-of-Lease Options

At the end of your lease, you have multiple options. You can either renew the lease at a significantly lower price, purchase the machine outright based on the fair market value of the original pricing, or call it a day and we’ll come the pick up the equipment for you free of charge.

No Loan-Like Terms

Our leases do not include loan-like terms, which can be restrictive or harmful in certain situations. We do not require debt covenants, IP pledges, collateral,  or equity participation. Our goal is to maximize your flexibility. When you lease with us, you’re collaborating with a true business partner.

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Our underwriting is done in-house. You can expect quicker turnaround, allowing you respond to your equipment needs as they arise. We require less documentation than traditional lenders and financiers and can get the equipment you need in operation more quickly.