MJ Research DNA Engine Opticon

The development of fluorescence-based assays has radically changed DNA analysis, and the novel Opticon™ detector enables quantitative and melting-curve analysis as well as other precision temperature-controlled measurements on the flagship DNA Engine thermal cycler. Its unique rugged design uses LED excitation and PMT detection to deliver high sensitivity with no moving parts.


The Opticon™ detector employs an array of 96 blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to excite fluorescent dyes. LEDs provide a long-lived, maintenance-free excitation source for years of uninterrupted performance. Each LED beam is precisely focused onto its corresponding well to insure minimal crosstalk and light scattering. Crosstalk is further reduced by sequentially illuminating and detecting each well.

Emitted fluorescence is then detected by a photomultiplier tube (PMT) that not only detects, but also amplifies the fluorescence signal. A built-in bandpass-filter detection system separates the specific signal from the background, thereby increasing the signal-to-noise ratio. This detection strategy delivers exceptional sensitivity, resulting in the ability to detect as little as one initial template copy, and to accurately quantify initial template over a broad dynamic range. This reduces the need for time-consuming dilutions, even with samples of unknown or widely varying concentration. The Opticon detector’s sensitivity also allows a reduction in the consumption of costly reagents without sacrificing data quality.


  • A multitude of applications are possible including quantification of starting copy number, identification of reaction products by melting profile, pathogen detection, and genotype determination.
  • Exquisite sensitivity delivers rapid signal detection over a linear dynamic range of ten orders of magnitude in starting copy number (with appropriate chemistry).
  • Intuitive software allows quick protocol creation, monitoring of results in real time (fluorescence intensity vs. cycle number), and analysis of quantification and melting curve data.
  • Gradient capability permits simultaneous incubation at 12 different temperatures to optimize reactions in a single run.
  • A compact footprint (34cm wide x 47cm deep x 60cm high) ensures that the Opticon system comfortably fits on any lab bench.



Linear Dynamic Range of Starting Copy Number: Up to ten orders of magnitude
Detection Limit of Template Starting Copy Number: Down to single-copy detection
Sample Volume Range: 10-100µl (20µl recommended)
Fluorescence Excitation Range: 450-495nm
Fluorescence Detection Range: 515-545nm
Input Power: 100-240 Volts AC, 50-60 Hertz, 850W maximum
Size: 34cm wide x 47cm deep x 60cm high
Weight: 27kg
Note: Specifications subject to change without notice.
Sample Capacity: 96-well microplate (low-profile) or 12-8×0.2ml strip tubes (low-profile)
Thermal Uniformity: ±0.4°C within 30 seconds of arrival at 90°C
Thermal Accuracy: Average temp within ±0.3°C of programmed value at 90°C, NIST-traceable
Speed of Ramping: Up to 3°C/second
Thermal Range: 0°C to 105°C
Temperature Gradient Accuracy: ±0.3°C of target at end columns within 30 seconds of arrival at programmed target, NIST-traceable
Thermal Column Uniformity: ±0.4°C, in column, well-to-well, within 30 seconds of target attainment
Calculator Accuracy: ±0.4°C of actual column temperature, NIST-traceable
Lowest Temp for Gradient: 30°C
Highest Temp for Gradient: 105°C
Temperature Differential Range: 1°C to 24°C
Note: Specifications subject to change without notice.
Networking: Ethernet
Operating System: Windows® XP* Pro
Memory: 256MB RAM
Storage: 40GB hard drive, 48X CD-RW
Display: 1024×768 resolution; 15″ flat panel
Data Acquisition Board: National Instruments PCI-6036E, 200kS/s (samples per second)
Note: Specifications subject to change without notice.
* OpticonMONITOR™ 2.0 software is compatible with Microsoft Windows® 2000 and Windows XP operating systems for purposes of data analysis.
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