About the Nth Plate Step

When using the BioStack, the Nth Plate feature lets you perform a special function, like AutoClean, after a certain number of plates have been processed or to specify special processing for certain plates in the stack. The LHC identifies the special plate or plates (that we call Nth plate) by counting the number of plates that have been processed before it.

You can limit the action, when the Nth Plate is reached, to perform only the "Nth Plate steps." In this case, the Nth Plate steps can be performed with or without an actual plate. Another option is to perform all the steps in the protocol, both regular and Nth Plate steps, when the Nth Plate is reached.

The Nth Plate step is actually a step container, similar to the Loop and Use BioStack step containers. First, you add the Nth Plate step to the protocol and then put the action steps inside its start and end tags. We call this grouping an Nth Plate block.

For the designated plates, LHC lets you choose between performing only the Nth Plate steps or performing both the Nth Plate steps and the protocol steps that follow the Nth Plate block and precede the next Nth Plate block. This means you must consider the placement of the Nth Plate block in relation to the regular protocol steps when designing a complex protocol. For simple actions, like performing a maintenance step after a certain number of plates have been processed, make the Nth Plate Block the last step in the BioStack step container. All the plates will be processed the same way and then the instrument will perform the maintenance action.

For more complex processing, remember the LHC performs the steps in ordered sequence beginning with the first step in the BioStack block. When the first step is an Nth Plate block, the LHC can evaluate it to determine which plates will be handled in a special way. For each Nth Plate block you can choose to perform the steps in the block and the steps that follow the block and precede the next Nth Plate block or BioStack end tag. Any steps that precede an Nth Plate block will be performed on all plates, including the Nth designated plates.

Multiple Nth Plate blocks can be defined in a protocol to sequentially perform a series of varying actions on a specified grouping of plates. See Advanced Plate Sequencing with the BioStack.