The Advantage of Storage Plates Over Tubes

When it comes to the storage, handling and transporting samples and compounds, there is one ‘Go to’ solution prioritized above the rest. Storage plates, often called deepwell plates, are typically produced in a range of Polypropylenes which provide good chemical resistance.

However, when lower-grade material or ‘non-virgin’ polymer has been used, extractible elements can be leached from the storage plate wall, which can add background noise to your analysis.

When comparing storage plates and tubes, the former has a great advantage as it has a capacity for storing a vast number of samples in a small area. The footprint of this has been defined by both the Society for Laboratory Automation (SLAS) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Researchers can feel assured that the storage plate is appropriate to use with robotic handling, plate readers, and plate handling devices thanks to their compliance with these definitions.

There are two distinct families that split the definition of storage plate formats. Firstly, square wells permit a greater well volume, while round wells assist contents mixing within their shape.

The profile of the well base is a further variable in the design of storage plates. Square Well Storage plates typically have ‘V’ shaped bases, which assist them in their goal to maximize sample extraction.

In contrast, Round Well Storage plates traditionally have a ‘U’ shaped base, the curved shape of which aids mixing. Wells from Irish Life Sciences (ILS) come in either shape, with the addition of square well storage plates with ‘U’-shaped bottoms.

The well volume/shape relationships dictate the height of storage plates. Well storage plates that are shallow with a volume of 360 ul or 400 ul tend to be just under 15 mm. Deepwell storage plates can be up to 44 mm-high and store 1 mL or 1.2 mL in round well format, and 2.0mL or 2.2mL in the square well format.

There are frequently found exceptions to this, namely low-profile storage plates, which are usually around the 1 mL to 1.6 mL range, with a conventional height of between 24 mm and 33 mm.

There is the option for some manufacturers, including ILS, to produce a 2 mL round well storage plate, which has a height of 44 mm. This is known as a common wall storage plate.

The final influence on well volume and height is the number of wells in a storage plate. Conventionally, the most common storage plates have 96 wells in either square well or round well format. However, the range of plates available also includes 24, 48, or 384 wells and, in exceptional cases, 1536 wells for high throughput screening. ILS has the following ranges: 4.6 mL, 48 well to 10 mL, 24 well storage plates, in addition to the popular 96 well plates.

Round well plates can have a raised rim to minimize the risk of cross-contamination and to facilitate sealing with a range of adhesive or heat-sealing films, many of which can be punctured for sample extraction.

Alternatively, it is possible to find rimless round well storage plates, which are available where sealing with film use is not as vital, or where it is necessary that the storage plate can hold glass vials.

Square well plates generally have a sealing lip on them.

Most storage plates possess an Alpha-Numeric grid reference along the side and top to assist sample processing.

The polypropylene used by the moulder determines the opacity of the storage plate and is not necessarily indicative of the purity of the material. ILS uses a medical-grade polypropylene, which has been tested to show that it has class-leading low levels of extractible elements and to provide a clearer sidewall. Use of a medical grade polymer also ensures uniformity, a high-standard performance and a guarantee that the polymer formulation is consistent without changes.

Other vital features of a deepwell storage plate that are sometimes overlooked include the elimination of moulding gases trapped in the wells and on the sealing surfaces. This increases the potential for leaks from the well bottom or poor sealing performance at the top of the plate, resulting in cross-contamination and potential evaporation and sample deterioration. It is also necessary for storage plates to be stackable for their use in robotic applications.

A polypropylene with minimum extractable elements will be used to mould higher quality storage plates in clean rooms. These will be tested on LCMS/GCMS equipment to certify that the storage plate is suitable to use on Mass Spectrometers without producing extra peaks in the chromatogram, which are not related to the expected analytes.

Irish Life Sciences regularly validates its Medical Device-certified cleanrooms to ensure its storage plates are moulded in a contamination-free environment and are critically DNase/RNase and pyrogen-free.

The very latest technology and automation to minimize human contact is used in the ILS cleanroom moulding facility to guarantee the provision of consistent and competitive storage plates. These are moulded in medical-grade polymers and have been tested on Time of Flight Mass Spectrometers.

About Irish Life Sciences

Our goal at ILS is to build relationships through openness, quality, high service standards and flexibility that make us the natural choice as your supplier of Scientific Consumables.


Our relationship with customers is based on actively listening and collaborating to satisfy their requirements. Our team is committed to proactively identifying solutions that meet your current and future needs.


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Accepting the status quo is contrary to our core beliefs. We look to each other to constantly achieve the highest levels of safety, quality, and service. Our team are empowered to contribute ideas and to own our processes, delivering with passion the excellence of service expected of us all.


Whether working with colleagues or external partners, we will act with the highest level of integrity and assume the same of others. Our team will treat each other and our partners with dignity. We are a trusted partner.

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Last updated: May 29, 2020 at 9:43 AM


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