PharmaSeq has adapted its p-Chip technology for the tagging and cataloging of straws used in the cryopreservation of biological material. p-Chips are ultra-small, durable, low-cost ID tags that are activated by the laser light of a PharmaSeq wand or benchtop reader. This technology has created a groundbreaking system for the tracking and identification of crucial sperm and embryo lines.


The small size of cryostraws, combined with the challenging temperature conditions at which they are prepared and stored, have traditionally limited individual straw identification to printed labels or colored tags. Several key factors make p-Chips a perfect fit for this application: they are reliable at extreme temperatures, they can be read through frost buildup and each p-Chip contains a unique ID number that cannot be replicated.

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Major Advantages

p-Chips thrive at temperature extremes. Short- or long-term storage in liquid nitrogen (-196°C) presents no problem for the chip’s reliability. In internal studies at PharmaSeq, p-Chip-tagged cryostraws stored in liquid nitrogen were found to have 100 percent readability after a period of 12 months (n = 100). Similar studies carried out at two major animal breeding facilities yielded similar results.
Frost buildup on the outside of a straw will not inhibit the reading of p-Chips, unlike printed barcodes. PharmaSeq’s laser is able to penetrate even thick layers of frost with no thawing or wiping of the surface prior to reading. This allows the user to maintain the low temperature of the straw and vitally preserve sample integrity.

Every p-Chip ever produced contains a globally-unique identification number. Even at high-volume facilities, there is zero chance of encountering a duplicate. This helps maintain the chain-of-custody for each straw at and between institutions.


PharmaSeq’s cryostraws arrive to the customer pre-loaded with p-Chips. The p-Chip in each straw is located between the plastic wall of the straw and the cotton plug inside, with its circuit side facing out. The chips are read through the wall of the straw using either a standard PharmaSeq handheld wand or a benchtop adapter into which the straw can be dropped and rotated. Some facilities, as part of their workflow, require the cotton plug to be moved out of alignment. This shifts the position of the p-Chip. For these cases, use of the wand is appropriate.


Key Points

PharmaSeq has developed an innovative system for the tagging and identification of sperm and embryo cryostraws using p-Chip technology. p-Chips perform exceptionally well at temperature extremes, including in liquid nitrogen, and frost buildup on the outside of a straw does not interfere with the reading of p-Chips. The unique ID number carried by each p-Chip maintains the chain-of-custody for each straw, and the electronic system eliminates the potential for human data entry and transcription errors.