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The Spark® multimode microplate reader - your research partner

Easy selection of one of the four preset configurations for a specific application segment provides a fast solution to solve your research problems. The fully configurable platform also gives you the freedom to personalize your own Spark reader. The Spark is also upgradeable so that you can add modules at any time in the future.

Tab 01 / Overview

Four configurations for today. Ready for tomorrow.

Genomics and proteomics

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Cell-based assays

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Drug discovery

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Spark Capabilities

  • Absorbance – incl. UV/VIS spectra
  • Fluorescence top & bottom - incl. spectra
  • Time resolved fluorescence (TRF) – incl. spectra
  • FRET
  • Fluorescence Polarization (FP)
  • Luminescence – glow, flash, multicolor, spectra
  • AlphaScreen®, AlphaLISA® & AlphaPlex®
  • Automated live cell imaging – cell counting and confluence
  • Absorbance cuvette port
  • NanoQuant plate
  • Temperature control (RT+3°C – 42°C)
  • Liquid dispensers with reagent heater and stirrer
  • CO2 & O2 control
  • Evaporation protection (humidity cassette)
  • Te-Cool™ (active temperature regulation 18-42 °C)
  • Integrated lid handling
  • QC tools for IQOQ services
  • Low-volume DNA/RNA quantification
  • Nucleic acid labeling efficiency
  • Protein quantification
  • HTRF®, LanthaScreen®
  • Transcreener®
  • DLR®
  • BRET – including NanoBRET®
  • Cell counting and viability
  • Confluence assessments
  • Cell migration and woundhealing
  • Tecan Connect™ mobile app to monitor instrument
  • Absorbance – incl. UV/VIS spectra
  • Fluorescence top & bottom - incl. spectra
  • Time resolved fluorescence (TRF) – incl. spectra
  • FRET
  • Fluorescence Polarization (FP)
  • Luminescence – glow, flash, multicolor, spectra
  • AlphaScreen®, AlphaLISA® & AlphaPlex®
  • Automated live cell imaging – cell counting and confluence
  • Absorbance cuvette port
  • NanoQuant plate
  • Temperature control (RT+3°C – 42°C)
  • Liquid dispensers with reagent heater and stirrer
  • CO2 & O2 control
  • Evaporation protection (humidity cassette)
  • Te-Cool™ (active temperature regulation 18-42 °C)
  • Integrated lid handling
  • QC tools for IQOQ services
  • Low-volume DNA/RNA quantification
  • Nucleic acid labeling efficiency
  • Protein quantification
  • HTRF®, LanthaScreen®
  • Transcreener®
  • DLR®
  • BRET – including NanoBRET®
  • Cell counting and viability
  • Confluence assessments
  • Cell migration and woundhealing
  • Tecan Connect™ mobile app to monitor instrument

Are you ready to discover your Spark?


Ultra-fast. Ultra-accurate. Ultra-versatile.

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Unmatched flexibility for any assay or budget.

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Unparalleled sensitivity in the widest range of applications.

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Cell counting & imaging

Affordable imaging for increased data confidence.

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Tab 02 / Technology

High Speed Monochromator

Full absorbance spectrum scan in less than five seconds

Spark’s dedicated, patent-pending High Speed Monochromator is designed to set new standards for absorbance measurement speed and accuracy.

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DNA spectrum of a 50 μg/ml sample after blank reduction; a 2 μl sample volume was measured in Tecan’s NanoQuant Plate.

Unmatched combination of wavelength accuracy and scanning speed

The innovative design of Spark’s High Speed Monochromator delivers an absorbance spectrum between 200-1,000 nm in just five seconds using a step size of just 1 nm, effectively eliminating the risk of sample evaporation. Spectral recording is performed with unsurpassed wavelength accuracy and reproducibility (<=0.3 nm), generating consistent data for every sample.

This combination of speed, accuracy and reproducibility makes Spark the instrument of choice for low volume nucleic acid quantification and purity checks.

The image shows OD linearity from 0 to 4 OD measured at 260 nm.

Excellence in Nucleic acid analysis

Spark’s exceptional wavelength accuracy and reproducibility, combined with the unique design of Tecan’s NanoQuant Plate™, result in a DNA detection limit of <1 ng/µl.

A good wavelength ratio accuracy in A260/280 or A260/230  is crucial for DNA/RNA purity checks, ensuring repeatable and reproducible data, but this parameter is not specified for most systems on the market.

Spark’s ultra-fast spectral recording enables you to perform whole spectrum wavelength scans for all 16 samples in the NanoQuant Plate without the risk of evaporation, which is a well-known issue for other monochromator-based absorbance instruments.

NanoQuant Plate

Calibration-free, low volume nucleic acid quantification

The patented NanoQuant Plate was the first tool specifically developed for absorbance-based, small volume nucleic acid analyses in a multimode reader.

It is useful for a broad range of applications, such as DNA or RNA quantification, nucleic acid purity assessments and determination of labeling efficiency.

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Calibration-free quantification

The NanoQuant Plate can simultaneously measure up to 16 samples, with sample volumes of as little as 2 µl easily applied to individual quartz micro-spots using conventional single or eight-channel pipettes. Each quartz micro-spot is shaped to function as an individual lens – guaranteeing the best possible light transmission through the sample – and can be quickly and easily cleaned to minimize the risk of cross-contamination. Closing the plate lid effectively creates 16 quartz micro-cuvettes with a fixed path length of 0.5 mm – perfect for 230, 260 and 280 nm measurements.

For convenience and optimal data quality, the NanoQuant Plate is the only low volume plate on the market that is 100 % calibration free, maintaining reliable performance while minimizing demands on your time. This innovative tool truly is a prerequisite for sensitive, reliable and easy DNA/RNA quantification in your laboratory.

In addition to absorbance measurements, the NanoQuant Plate can be used to detect fluorescence signals in low volume samples. Simply pipette 2 µl samples from your fluorescence assay – for example, the Quant-iT™ PicoGreen® dsDNA assay – onto the NanoQuant Plate and use Spark  to detect the fluorescence signal.

Combining the NanoQuant Plate and Spark offers the ultimate solution for nucleic acid quantification.

Predefined methods = automated sample analysis

SparkControl™ software offers preconfigured one-click methods for nucleic acid- and protein quantification, giving you quick, easy and reliable results at the touch of a button.

The detection limit of ssDNA is specified at less than 1 ng/µl using the NanoQuant Plate in combination with Spark’s High Speed Monochromators.

Fluorescence – Fusion Optics

Revolutionary design offers sensitivity with flexibility

Spark’s Fusion Optics represent the first optical solution to combine the flexibility of monochromators with the sensitivity of filters in a single fluorescence measurement.

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A leap ahead of hybrid readers

Spark can be equipped with filters, Tecan’s state-of-the-art QuadX Monochromators™ double monochromator system or a combination of both. Unlike hybrid multimode readers, this concept allows users to independently choose between filters and monochromators for both excitation and emission.

This unique feature is available for all fluorescence-based detection modes – including standard top and bottom measurements, TRF, FRET, TR-FRET and FP –delivering very low detection limits and unlocking new possibilities. SparkControl software provides effortless control of the system, enabling easy selection of filters or monochromators on the fly.

Closing the gap between flexibility and sensitivity

Spark’s unique ability to combine the flexibility of monochromators with the sensitivity of filters is especially relevant for fluorescence emission or excitation scans. For example, using a filter on the excitation side gives higher instrument sensitivity, significantly improving peak quality.

The image shows a comparison of excitation and emission scans for standard fluorophore label (A), Alexa Fluor® 555 (B) and europium (C), revealing that using monochromators on both sides only detects ~25 % of the signal compared to using filters on the fixed wavelength side. This allows Spark’s Fusion Optics to dramatically increase the peak quality of the fluorescence spectra, even for very low signals.

Key features for fluorescence

  • Automated Z-focusing – optimal top and bottom focusing in every well, independent of plate type and format
  • Flexible bandwidth selection – from 5 to 50 nm for an optimal balance between specificity and sensitivity
  • Multiple dichroic mirrors – to maximize instrument sensitivity in combination with filters or monochromators
  • Optimal Read function – for bottom reading fluorescence, guaranteeing signal recording from all cells in the well, ideal for detection of GFP signals
  • Well scanning – high density well scanning generates a low resolution fluorescence image of the well
  • Spectra Viewer – software tool for improving excitation and emission settings of your assay
  • 3D scanning – accelerates assay development by providing simultaneous excitation and emission scans, helping to quickly and easily identify changes in the spectral properties of fluorescent probes or characterize unknown samples

Luminescence optics

Designed for sensitivity

Spark’s luminescence module offers optimized sensitivity for 96-, 384- and 1,536-well format glow, flash and multi-color luminescence applications. The pioneering design of the luminescence optics enables spectral recording of signals without compromising on sensitivity, giving you superior assay performance and preparing you for future luminescence applications.

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Glow luminescence linearity of the Spark using optimized conditions.

Optimized optics = optimal results

Spark uses luminescence fibers optimized for each plate format – 96, 384 and 1,536 wells – guaranteeing minimum signal crosstalk between wells. The light is guided through an innovative filter wheel consisting of multiple attenuation filters – reducing high signals by a factor of up to 1,000 – and 38 user-selectable colored filters, enabling virtually any multi-color luminescence measurement. The resulting signal is detected by a photomultiplier tube (PMT) operated in its most sensitive mode; photon counting.

This unique combination of optical components ensures maximum sensitivity for weak luminescent signals and allows attenuation of high signals. The result is an industry-leading dynamic range of 109, combined with exceptionally low detection limits for glow and flash luminescence.

Emission spectra of Renilla (RR) and firefly (FF) luciferases recorded with the Spark

Optimize your assay with multi-color luminescence

Most plate readers use a fluorescence emission monochromator for luminescence multiplexing or scanning, leading to inferior results and an unacceptable drop in sensitivity due to attenuation.

To overcome this limitation, Spark uses a unique filter technology based on 19 pairs of short- and long-pass filters. With just a few clicks, you can select the desired wavelength and bandwidth for multi-color luminescence measurements or spectral scans. This makes Spark a future-proof set-up for multiplexed assay systems (such as Chroma-Glo™), BRET applications – including NanoBRET™ – and luminescence spectral recording.

The Alpha reader of choice

Flawless performance of Alpha Technology assays requires high quality instruments. Spark combines a high power laser light source with an innovative filter wheel and dedicated photon counting PMT for ultra-sensitive detection of Alpha assays. 

Spark is equipped with a unique IR temperature sensor enabling well-by-well temperature correction during measurements, overcoming a well-known challenge of Alpha assays. This is complemented by Spark’s Te-Cool™ module for stable temperature management, even below ambient, giving you full control over this critical assay parameter.

These features ensure Spark offers uncompromised performance for AlphaScreen®, AlphaLISA® and AlphaPlex® assays, as well as potential future Alpha Technology applications.

Automated cell imaging

Enabling cell counting, viability analysis and live cell imaging

Simple and cost-efficient cell imaging built directly into a multimode reader. The Spark cell imaging module consists of a LED brightfield illumination, a 4x objective lens, a CMOS 1.3 megapixel camera and a robust laser-based autofocus system, delivering performance to rival an automated microscope.

This system offers an affordable solution for users wanting to enter this exciting application area.

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Live cell package

Complete environmental control, simplified

Your life as a cell biologist revolves around keeping your cells happy, no matter the time or day. Take back control of your time and keep your cells happy by automating your workflows. Spark brings together the capabilities of an automated incubator, a microplate reader and a cell imager in one, offering new possibilities for you and your lab.

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Automated incubator

Spark is equipped with precise temperature control to enable uniform heating of your microplate. To help ensure even temperature distribution, the microplate chamber is thermally isolated from the optics, guaranteeing stable and precise temperature regulation for your assays.

Spark adds another layer of environmental controls by putting CO2/O2 partial pressure control at your fingertips. An integrated Gas Control Module (GCM™) offers CO2 regulation from 0.04 to 10 % (vol.), and O2 from 0.1 to 21 % (vol.), creating an ideal environment for your cells. CO2 regulation maintains cell health during long-term kinetic studies, while O2 control allows you to maintain the correct atmosphere for microaerophilic organisms or mimic physiologic conditions.

Generating growth curves with bacteria or yeast also requires effective plate shaking. Based on years of experience and knowledge of working with cell lines in microplate readers, Spark was specifically engineered for long-term shaking and incubation of micro-organisms.

Easy-to-use SparkControl software gives you straightforward control of these features, placing the best conditions for your live cell assays in your hands.

Humidity control – protection from edge effects

Humidity regulation at levels of 95 % or higher is another key element for good cell viability and growth, and minimizing evaporation is essential for maintaining constant concentrations during long-term assays. Spark’s Humidity Cassette is a cost-effective solution to minimize evaporation in any SBS-format microplate. This patented tool incorporates a filling moat and has a specialized lid for use with our unique Lid Lifter, giving you passive humidity control for any assay. Simply add ddH2O to the filling moat and you have an instant, no-fuss humidified atmosphere in your microplate chamber.

Lid Lifter

Spark gives you access to a new type of automation – integrated lid lifting – creating new workflow possibilities, reducing the risk of sample contamination and helping to establish an ideal environment for long-term kinetic assays. Whether you want to dispense compounds without the need for manual intervention or maintain optimal environmental conditions without compromising evaporation protection, Spark is the only reader up to the task.

Software designed for scientists

SparkControl combines automation of long-term kinetic assays with advanced features such as kinetic conditioning, remote operation and Open Kinetic, providing a hands-off solution for complex experimental set-ups.

Many live cell kinetic experiments require specific actions – for example, addition of a compound – once a certain signal level or OD value is reached. Multimode readers equipped with manual environmental controls can make these types of study cumbersome or error-prone. SparkControl’s kinetic conditioning feature allows you to program the system to automatically perform a required action as soon as a predefined signal is reached in a control well, fitting almost any assay workflow you can think of, in un-lidded or lidded microplates.

SparkControl’s remote control feature allows you to monitor or operate the instrument from outside of the lab. This enables full system control without the need to sit in front of the reader for hours; if you are connected to the internet, then you are connected to your experiment.

A multimode reader is frequently used for multiple applications by various users. Long-term live cell kinetics assays can block the reader for an entire day, limiting overall lab throughput. SparkControl offers an efficient solution: Open Kinetic. This feature allows you to pause and resume kinetic experiments, enabling additional measurements to be performed throughout long-term studies. This frees up the instrument for other users, eliminating one of the major bottlenecks of shared lab equipment, without compromising your valuable research.

Te-Cool – true temperature stability

Total temperature control, even below ambient

Consistent temperature is a prerequisite for reliable results. Spark is the first multimode reader with integrated cooling, giving you complete temperature control between 18 and 42 °C – regardless of the ambient temperature in your lab – every time, across every season, anywhere in the world.

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Biology is not always at 37 °C

The target temperature isn’t always 37 °C in all biological situations. For example, zebra fish larvae need to be at 25 °C, and insect cells (Sf9) require 22 °C. A typical multimode reader can only heat the microplate chamber, usually requiring an offset of 2-5 °C above the current room temperature. This traditional approach to temperature control eliminates flexibility and will result in sub-optimal experimental conditions, leading to unreliable or unusable data. This lack of functionality also limits your ability to investigate certain organisms or applications.

With Spark’s unique Te-Cool module, you can heat or cool the measurement chamber. This enables you to set any user-defined temperature from 18 to 42 °C, guaranteeing stable temperature conditions

Exemplary luminescent kinase assay, where the activity of a glow luciferase was measured at different temperatures. The luminescent signal increased approximately 10 % per 1 °C increase in temperature.

Impact of temperature on luminescence

Temperature plays a crucial role on biochemical assays using enzymes derived from non-mammalian organisms. For example, bioluminescence assay systems require optimal temperatures between 20 and 25 °C. These assays are usually highly temperature sensitive, with even a 1 °C increase in temperature leading to a 10 % increase in luminescence output. Luminometers or multimode readers that cannot stably control temperature in this critical range will therefore generate irreproducible data.

Spark is the only reader that can mitigate the impact of temperature on your luminescence assays, yielding higher quality data for your valuable research.

Cool down in a snap

Multiple users require multiple experimental conditions. A major bottleneck for microplate readers is waiting for an instrument to reach the desired temperature. Heating up the measurement chamber is easy, but what if you have to wait for it to cool down?

It typically takes over 60 minutes for a reader to cool down from 37 °C to room temperature through passive cooling, costing you valuable time and disrupting your busy schedule. Imagine the time delays and decrease in productivity you could avoid in a multi-user lab by just shortening that cool-down window.

The Te-Cool module gives you active cooling of the microplate chamber, resulting in significant time savings. Labs can effectively reduce their cool-down time going from 37 to 22 °C.

Luminescent signal over time in a kinetic measurement. During a measurement time of 6 min, the luminescent signal increases due to heating of the liquid in the wells.

Smart automation

Consider new possibilities

By focusing on the details, Tecan’s scientists and engineers have been able to deliver a product that changes your perceptions of a microplate reader. Smart automation is the harmonious combination of Spark’s revolutionary technologies with your research, unlocking new possibilities. Each aspect is meticulously manufactured to ensure that the data you produce is true and consistent, empowering your discovery.

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Prioritize your valuable resources

Researchers in every lab are constantly being pushed and pulled to make the next discovery on limited assets. Whether the constraint is driven by budget or time, we have all felt the burden.

Spark brings together a unique set of features intended to ease this strain and create new workflow possibilities for your laboratory, reducing hands-on time while producing high quality data for each and every sample.

Whether you are looking to design long-term experiments that work around your schedule, attempting to shrink sample volumes to reduce costs, or trying gain access to multiple instruments on a tight budget, Spark gives you control over your priorities. 

Eliminate data variability at the source

As scientists, we consider ourselves data-driven. Whether your research is centered in academia or industry, your next discovery will rely on your data. The ability to generate reliable, reproducible and high quality data should be a prerequisite for all laboratory instruments.

Every time you run an experiment you invariably introduce some level of error that impacts your results. Variability is hard to avoid, whether it is transferring your cell-based assay between instruments or manually assessing confluence. Whether the errors are human subjectivity, environmental factors or contamination, you are influencing your results. Completely eliminating this variability isn’t realistic, so you are forced to make concessions. But isn’t your data too important to compromise?

Spark is designed to address almost every detail of the most demanding assays and applications, delivering technologies that seamlessly work together to allow you to generate accurate and consistent data, each and every day.

Tab 03 / Software

SparkControl™ adapts to your assay

SparkControl 3.2 - available now!​

The new SparkControl 3.2 software includes multiple features improving the overall user experience. For example, benefit from the new label-free cell counting functionality to simplify your cell-based assay workflow and save valuable time.

Already have a Spark? Please contact your local sales representative for a free upgrade to SparkControl 3.2.

SparkControl excels in handling routine or complex workflows. Whether you need to quantify a nucleic acid or automate an injection at a specific absorbance value, SparkControl works for you, freeing up more time for your research.

Usability takes center stage

True simplicity

One-click applications streamline your most common assays, getting you from sample to results faster than ever before. Designed for users at any skill level, SparkControl uses icon-driven, ‘drag and drop’ implementation.

Effortless complexity

Get instant access to applications and enjoy easy operation with SparkControl’s workflow-based interface. The software allows you to easily translate your protocol into a method that can be run or edited at any time.


Open Kinetic

Forget about the sign-up sheet.

Open Kinetic allows you to pause and resume kinetic reads. In the case of long-term experiments or experiments with long reading intervals, this feature enables other users to perform separate applications between kinetic measurements.

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Live Viewer

One last look. SparkControl turns Spark into a microscope.

Live Viewer allows the user to monitor cells under optimal or physiological conditions in real-time.

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Integrated fluorophore library

A list of fluorophores with precise spectra allows fast visualization and easy selection of excitation and emission wavelengths.

Integrated flurophore library with more than 60 fluorophores allows easy and precise visual selection of emission and excitation wavelengths.

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  • One-click application
  • Environmental Control
  • Optimal Read
  • Automated z-focus
  • High definition well scan
  • High-resolution 3D scanning
  • Extended dynamic range
  • Kinetic assay protection
  • Magellan

High Resolution 3D scanning

Accelerate your assay development

High resolution 3D scanning provides simultaneous excitation and emission scans, giving you the ability to quickly identify changes in the spectral properties of fluorescent probes and characterize unknown fluorescent samples.

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Extended dynamic range

Detection at very low signals

Automatic adjustment of gain settings during a measurement means you never have to compromise on sensitivity, allowing the detection of very low signals.

SparkControl takes care of everything, correlating and displaying all of your results in one single data set.

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Automated z-focus

Increased sensitivity for fluorescence

Significantly improve the quality of your results with enhanced sensitivity in top reading fluorescence intensity and fluorescence polarization assays.

The automated z-focus adjustment determines the focal point for the best signal-to-blank ratio in each microplate well, regardless of the plate type, well shape or sample volume.

This unique feature makes it easy to set up your reader for optimum performance with varying assay parameters.

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One-click applications

Sample to results faster than ever

SparkControl’s one-click applications epitomize our effort to put fast, simple instrument operation at your fingertips.

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High definition well scan

Complete picture of the cell population

Obtain a more accurate signal from each well, even with inhomogeneous cell layers.

High definition well scans give you a qualitative image of the cell distribution, effectively giving you a complete picture of the cell population.

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Environmental controls

Adjust conditions at a click

In combination with Spark’s unique environmental control options – including the GCM™ and Te-Cool™ module – SparkControl makes it easy to adjust parameters on the fly.

You have full control of the environmental conditions during a run, including the temperature (even below ambient) and the CO2 and O2 levels inside the reader.

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Optimal Read fluorescence measurements

Fluorescence bottom reading optimized

SparkControl features a special Optimal Read (OR) function designed to improve cell-based measurements. OR delivers increased sensitivity for enhanced FI bottom reading by performing multiple measurements on spatially separated spots arrayed across each well.

This allows you to achieve very low CVs with high intra- and inter-well reproducibility when measuring adherent cells in microplates.

Optimal Read fluorescence measurements - Diagram

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Kinetic assay protection

Safeguard your assays

Safeguard your kinetic assays using automated gain regulation to avoid fluorescence measurements running into saturation.

Measurements with different gain settings are then automatically correlated, allowing evaluation of the entire dataset.

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SparkControl Magellan™

Empower your data analysis

SparkControl Magellan is a data analysis package that provides you with powerful data reduction tools for numerous detection modes.

You gain access to an array of features designed to enhance functionality, simplicity and security for a variety of microplate-based applications.  

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Tecan Connect™ mobile app

Stay connected with your experiment wherever you are.

Use the Tecan Connect mobile app to monitor instrument status and alert you when user interactions are required.

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Tab 04 / Accessories

Add-ons and QC-tools for Spark

Injectors with heating and stirring

Integrated injectors give you valuable dispensing capabilities, ideal for high sensitivity applications such as flash luminescence. Unique heating and stirring capabilities reduce the risk of precipitation.

Spark-Stack™ microplate stacker

The Spark-Stack is a compact, automated plate stacker for integration with Spark readers. It provides reliable walkaway processing of up to 50 plates per run.

QC tools and IQOQ services

Confidence throughout the whole lifecycle. Tecan’s quality control packages help you to fulfill all regulatory requirements for your Tecan microplate readers in an efficient, cost-effective way.

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Humidity Cassette

Built-in evaporation protection enhances live cell kinetic assays, minimizing edge effects for better reproducibility and more reliable data.

A patented Humidity Cassette reduces evaporation in standard microplates, enabling long-term live kinetic studies without the need to switch to dedicated and costly microplate types – simply use your current, validated plates. Benefits include:

  • Reduction in evaporation during your assay
  • Use your existing plates – no need for expensive special plates
  • Better data quality – consistent results
  • Reduced edge effects – ideal for long-term kinetics
  • Stable conditions – better cell viability
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Cell Chips™ for cell counting

Tecan’s innovative Cell Chips minimize sample preparation, offering greater application flexibility and opening up new cell counting possibilities for cells in suspension.

With its built-in cell counter, Spark can analyze a broad range of cell sizes and types, providing fully automated, label-free cell counting and analysis in less than 30 seconds.

  • Accurate, reproducible cell counting, with flexible area selection for greater sensitivity
  • One-click analysis of cell number, size distribution and viability
  • Export images for visual confirmation
  • High precision cell counting, even at low concentrations
  • Automated replicate processing for multiple samples in disposable Cell Chips
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NanoQuant Plate™

The NanoQuant Plate allows parallel quantification and analysis of as little as 2 µl of up to 16 nucleic acid or protein samples. The unique design of the NanoQuant Plate, with a quartz optic for each sample, negates the need for calibration and guarantees consistent performance.

Tab 05 / Literature

Application Guide


Application Notes

A lot of research is devoted to the search for new compounds with bioactivity against bacteria. However, it is important to distinguish between antimicrobial activity and antibiofilm activity. Antimicrobial activity affects bacterial growth, and reduced growth can simultaneously result in a decrease in biofilm production. Antibiofilm activity only affects the formation of biofilms. Therefore, the use of antimicrobial compounds at concentrations that are not bactericidal against all susceptible bacteria often leads to the emergence of resistant strains. In contrast, antibiofilm compounds do not affect bacterial growth, and so do not generate the same opportunities for resistance to develop. This Application Note describes the SIMBA – SIMultaneous detection of antiMicrobial and anti-Biofilm Activity – method using the Spark multimode reader to generate OD600 growth curves for S. Infantis in a 96-well microplate over a 20- hour period, allowing the parallel determination of antimicrobial and antibiofilm activities of selected cold water fungal extracts.

Environmental pathogens are microorganisms that inhabit our surroundings, living outside of a human host for a large portion of their lifecycle. Many of these micro-organisms cause severe pathogenic conditions in plants and are often the reason behind significant crop failures that in turn lead to economic damage. Environmental pathogens can also cause diseases in humans and, in some cases, lead to severe infections that are difficult to treat. There is therefore a need for accurate methods to study these pathogens, and a common way to do that is through turbidimetric measurements. The aim of the current study was to investigate how bacterial growth is affected by temperature, using two different environmental pathogens – the rod-shaped Gram-negative Pseudomonas syringae and Erwinia amylovora.

Bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) is a well-established detection technology for the investigation of protein-protein interactions in living cells. The latest-generation BRET assay, NanoBRET™, employs an extremely bright NanoLuc® luciferase and a long-wavelength acceptor fluorophore, resulting in a markedly improved detection sensitivity and a higher dynamic range. This application note describes the implementation of NanoBRET technology on the Spark multimode reader, using the NanoBRET Target Engagement Intracellular HDAC Assay.

The novel ValitaTITER assay provides a very accurate and cost-effective solution for the detection and quantification of IgG and Fc-containing proteins directly in cell culture supernatants In this application note, we show the optimal protocol for performing IgG/Fc-protein quantification using ValitaTITER assay kits with the Spark and the Infinite 200 PRO multimode plate readers.

Temperature is a major factor affecting the rate and dynamics of biochemical reactions. The Spark® multimode reader’s ingenious Te-Cool™ module permits measurements even below ambient temperature, thereby limiting the effects of temperature increases in the laboratory on the dynamics of assays. It helps to stabilize temperature-dependent assays and makes the results more reproducible and reliable.

The Optimal Read function for fluorescence bottom measurements is designed to enable uniform well illumination during excitation and whole-well emission for 6-to 384-well plates. Performing multiple measurements on spatially separated spots arrayed across each well ensures that even heterogeneous cell layers can be effectively and reproducibly analyzed. This application note shows that the Optimal Read function produces the most reliable results for the analysis of adherent cell types, giving the highest well-to-well uniformity and best sensitivity for cell-based applications.

Cell counting, viability analysis and determination of size distribution are routinely performed by researchers across multiple disciplines, from standard cell passaging for downstream experiments to using insect cells infected with baculovirus to produce recombinant proteins, or determining the differentiation capacity of stem cells. Tecan’s Spark multimode reader has an integrated, bright field cell imaging module. This patent-pending system enables label-free cell counting, size distribution determination and trypan blue-based cell viability analysis with an easy-to-use, disposable Cell Chip™. In this study, the analysis of cell concentration, cell viability and size distribution for the determination of the optimal protein production rate in recombinant Sf21 cell cultures is presented.

HTRF is a time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET)-based assay system from Perkin Elmer cisbio, and is popular for the analysis of various molecular interactions and binding studies. HTRF assays place high sensitivity demands on multimode readers. The Spark offers a number of features to meet these demands and to ensure optimal assay performance, including Tecan’s unique Fusion Optics which combine the sensitivity of filters and the flexibility of monochromators (MCRs) in one instrument. In addition to entirely filter- or MCR-based measurements, a combination of the two can be used simultaneously within one measurement. Automated Z-position optimization and an integrated dichroic mirror that is perfectly suited to HTRF measurements further increase the Spark’s outstanding sensitivity. This application note describes the validation of the Spark reader, equipped with standard fluorescence optics, for HTRF measurements.

This application note describes the successful implementation of AlphaScreen on the Spark multimode reader, as well as the performance of the instrument with regards to measurement sensitivity, uniformity and typical read times.

This application note describes the implementation of the AlphaScreen technology on the Spark multimode reader and the detection of tyrosine kinase activity using the AlphaScreen P-Tyr-100 Assay Kit.

This application note describes the implementation of the AlphaLISA technology on the Spark multimode reader and its use for the detection of human immunoglobulin G (IgG) using the AlphaLISA IgG Assay Kit.

Tecan’s Spark multimode microplate reader with integrated cell imaging simplifies cell culture, featuring quality checks and signal normalization to cell confluence, thereby boosting automation of cell-based studies.

Keep control of crucial experimental conditions with the first air conditioning system for a multimode reader – enabling stable measurement chamber temperature down to 18°C.

Assaying cells in an appropriate window of time after a compound-­mediated cytotoxic event can be extremely challenging. This note describes the automation for kinetic monitoring of cytotoxicity and viability using three Promega assays for viability, cytotoxicity and apoptosis assessment with the Spark multimode reader.

Cell migration is a central process in the development and maintenance of multicellular organisms, with tissue formation during embryonic development, wound healing and immune responses all requiring the orchestrated movement and assembly of cells.

Tecan’s Spark multimode microplate reader was used for the real-time analysis of human stem cell proliferation and differentiation, using established assays for cell viability, proliferation and apoptosis assessment in a reliable and convenient manner.

Tecan’s Spark multimode microplate reader was used to identify metabolic changes during the differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells and to assess and quantify cell viability, cytotoxicity and apoptosis, using several well-established and reliable cell-based assays developed by PromoCell.

For many cell biology applications – such as the identification and separation of high expression clones or knock-down candidates, and small-scale antibody or protein production – it is important to ensure that cell lines originates from a single cell, i.e. they are monoclonal. This can be a major bottleneck, especially for academic laboratories, as dedicated automated microscopy systems are both very expensive and complex to operate, meaning verification of monoclonality is often performed by manual microscopy.

This application note summarizes the performance of the Spark reader with enhanced fluorescence optics for HTRF assays. All available optics configurations of the Spark’s Fusion Optics system meet the requirements for HTRF certification and are HTRF-compatible.

Plate based titer quantification with PAIA titer assay and Tecan Spark® multimode reader.

Technical Notes

Fast and reliable nucleic acid quantification and purity checks are important daily routine applications for many laboratories, driven by the widespread use of next generation sequencing and other high throughput nucleic acid analysis techniques. Many methods require rapid, accurate analysis of small sample volumes to keep pace with downstream processes.This technical note shows the optimized Spark measurement settings, as well as comparative results, for the commonly used fluorescence-based DNA quantification assays evaluated in this study.

This technical note describes a method to perform UV[1]based protein quantification using the Spark multimode reader and the low volume NanoQuant Plate with the one-click SparkControl application. It shows comparative data for UV absorbance-based protein quantification in microplates and the gold standard for dye-based methods, the Pierce™ BCA assay. The study results can be used as a guideline to help scientists choose the right method for their specific application.

Evaporation has a huge impact on the performance of both biochemical and cell-based assays, changing reagent, component and metabolite concentrations to alter reaction kinetics and cell physiology. It is therefore crucial to keep the consistency throughout the whole plate to allow comparison of data between wells during life sciences experiments. This technical note highlights the benefits of using the Tecan’s Humidity Cassette in combination with the Spark. The Humidity Cassette can minimize the impact of edge effects in microplates under certain conditions. It provides better uniformity and delivers more reliable data for long-term studies.

Spark’s fluorescence module is available with a choice of filters, monochromators or Fusion Optics – a novel combination of both monochromators and filters. The Fusion Optics module combines the flexibility of monochromators with the sensitivity of filters in a single device, and even within individual measurements. In addition to this enormous flexibility, users can choose either a standard or an enhanced fluorescence module for their Spark multimode reader. The standard fluorescence module is tailored to basic applications, with an exceptionally good performance in the green wavelength range. The enhanced optics module is designed for higher throughput applications in 384- and 1,536-well plates, and offers better performance in the red and blue wavelength range, as well as for high throughput screening (HTS) assays, including TR-FRET and FP.This technical note describes the differences in the sensitivity-to-speed ratio of the standard and enhanced modules in 96- and 384-well plates for measurements using fluorescein (green) and Alexa Fluor® 555 (red).

Monitoring growth of prokaryotic cells and yeast is an important tool in life sciences, as well as in the food industry. This technical note demonstrates the Spark reader’s suitability for the generation of growth curves in the commonly used 24- and 96-well plate formats for three different, well-established bacterial strains, Escherichia coli, Listeria innocua and Staphylococcus capitis. It describes the established methods to generate OD 600 growth curves of all three bacterial strains in 24- and 96-well plates over a period of 8 hours. The influence of important instrument settings, such as shaking, are considered and discussed.

This technical note outlines the use of the Spark reader in combination with the ValitaTITER assay for the quantification of IgG. It offers a comparison of the use of the instrument’s standard and enhanced fluorescence optics, and discusses the optimization of flash number to produce high quality, reproducible data while minimizing read times.

This technical note outlines the use of the Spark reader in combination with the ValitaTITER assay for the quantification of IgG. It offers a comparison of the use of the instrument’s standard and enhanced fluorescence optics, and discusses the optimization of flash number to produce high quality, reproducible data while minimizing read times.

Spark-Stack is a compact, versatile and field-upgradeable microplate stacker for the Spark® multimode reader. It offers walkaway automation and enhances the productivity in the lab by helping to automate typical workflow steps – including plate loading, unloading and restacking of 6-1536-well microplates. Spark-Stack can be equipped with dark covers to protect light-sensitive assays inside the plate magazines, such as Alpha technology-based assays and fluorophore-transfected cells.

The one-click Live Viewer software application turns the Spark microplate reader into a microscope. It enables easy and straightforward visual quality checks of cells in microplate wells or in Tecan's proprietary Cell Chip™, allowing researchers to automatically acquire and instantly view images of their cell samples immediately before the measurement is started.

The Spark reader is equipped with Tecan's unique Fusion Optics, which combine the benefits of filters and MCRs in a single multimode reader. The Spark can be equipped with filters, Quad4 Monochromators or a combination of both using the ingenious Spark Fusion Optics.

The new Spark multimode microplate reader is equipped with patent-pending High Speed Monochromators (HSM) enabling highly accurate, reproducible and ultra-fast absorbance measurements. This unique optical system offers an enhanced measurement range from 200 to 1,000 nm, ensuring optimal performance across the full range, particularly for absorbance measurements in the deep UV range, such as A260/A230 nucleic acid purity checks. The Spark reader is also suitable for measurements of low volume samples in both absorbance and fluorescence modes using the patented NanoQuant plate.

With the Spark‘s luminescence module, users can perform high sensitivity flash and glow luminescence measurements. For optimized signal detection of very high and low signals within one experiment, optical density (OD) filters help to attenuate strong signals in the range from OD1 to OD3, thereby avoiding ‘over’ readings. This enables users to detect luminescence signals with a dynamic range of more than 9 orders of magnitude.Multicolor luminescence assays with up to five different luciferases, as well as luminescence spectral scanning (eg. of luminescent proteins) can be easily set - using an innovative filter-based approach, users can select any wavelength between 398 nm and 653 nm, with a step size of 15 nm and a 25 nm bandwidth.

This technical note describes the optimized test set-ups, instrument settings and statistical equations that were used to determine the maximum instrument sensitivity of the Spark multimode reader for flash and glow luminescence.

This technical note describes the optimized test set-ups, instrument settings and statistical equations that were used to determine the best possible detection limit for standard fluorophore label in fluorescence intensity top reading mode (FI top).

This technical note describes the optimized test set-ups, instrument settings and statistical equations that were used to determine the best possible detection limit of europium in time-resolved fluorescence intensity reading.

This technical note describes the optimized test set-ups, instrument settings and statistical equations that were used to determine the best possible detection limit for standard fluorophore label in FI bottom mode.

In this technical note, we demonstrate the superior performance of the Spark reader compared to two other multimode readers from different providers. The detection limit for the far red fluorescent dye Alexa Fluor 647 – which has a fluorescence spectrum comparable to Cy5 – was determined, operating each instrument in MCR mode.

This technical note describes the implementation of the DLR Assay System on Tecan’s next generation high-end multimode reader platform Spark. It can perform high sensitivity flash and glow luminescence measurements with a dynamic range of more than nine orders of magnitude. In addition, its enhanced luminescence module can measure multicolor assays with up to five different luciferases, as well as offering spectral scanning of luminescent substances.

This Technical Note describes the functions and benefits of the Spark multimode microplate reader and cell imaging module, as well as the SparkControl software and its dedicated Cell Counting and Cell Viability Application.

This technical note compares the performance of the Spark’s cell counting module with (i) manual cell counting using C-Chip™ disposable hemocytometers and a standard microscope, (ii) a comparably priced, imaging-based cell counting device (Device A) and (iii) a high performance cell imager with counting capabilities (Device B).

The Transcreener® ADP2 TR-FRET Red Assay is a competitive immunoassay for ADP with a far-red, time-resolved fluorescence-resonance-energy-transfer (TR-FRET) read-out. It is intended for the detection adenosine diphosphate (ADP) production by any kinase or ATPase, and has been developed specifically for high-throughput screening applications. The Spark was tested for its capacity to measure the Transcreener ADP2 TR-FRET Red Assay using the four different combinations of the Fusion Optics.

The Transcreener ADP2 FP assay is a competitive FP assay based on the detection of ADP and is therefore compatible with any enzyme class that produces ADP, including protein, lipid, and carbohydrate kinases, ATPases, DNA helicases, carboxylases and glutamine synthetase. This technical note describes the instrument settings for the Transcreener ADP2 FP assay on Tecan’s Spark multimode microplate reader.

The Transcreener ADP2 FI uses a simple fluorescence intensity read-out. It is a homogenous, competitive assay based on the detection of ADP with an extremely sensitive antibody against ADP. The Transcreener ADP2 FI assay is compatible with any enzyme class that produces ADP, including protein, lipid and carbohydrate kinases, ATPases, DNA helicases, carboxylases and glutamine synthetase. This technical note describes the instrument settings of Tecan’s Spark multimode reader for the Transcreener ADP2 FI assay.

The Host-Microbiota Interactions Lab at the Wellcome Sanger Institute uses high throughput anaerobic microbiology, genomic and metagenomic approaches to explore the relationship between humans and their microbiome – the community of microorganisms that live on and in us. HMIL has developed techniques to culture strict anaerobic gut bacteria at scale and built an extensive culture collection for phenotypic profiling. To phenotypically screen this culture collection, HMIL uses a Spark multimode reader equipped with an integrated stacker module – the Spark-Stack™ – for automated and high throughput plate processing, which is housed in a Whitley A135 HEPA Anaerobic Workstation. This allows the generation of bacterial growth curves cultured in multiple microplates under stringent anaerobic conditions, i.e. at 0 % O2 using a dedicated and pre-optimized gas mix (80 % N2 , 10 % CO2 and 10 % H2 ). Here, we describe accurate profiling of the growth kinetics of strict anaerobic gut bacteria.


Tecan’s Spark multimode microplate reader with integrated cell imaging simplifies cell culture, featuring quality checks and signal normalization to cell confluence, thereby boosting automation of cell-based studies.

Keep control of crucial experimental conditions with the first air conditioning system for a multimode reader – enabling stable measurement chamber temperature down to 18°C.

Cell-based assays are very popular in life sciences research, as they represent an in vitro system which offers results comparable to in vivo systems. However, this improved biological relevance is counterbalanced by the complexity of working with a living organism. Cell-based assays therefore require special precautions and care when planning and conducting experiments.


The Spark multimode microplate reader platform offers solutions to suit virtually any life science research and drug discovery applications. This system allows researchers to freely configure a reader to their needs and full upgradeability allows access to all techniques and features in the future.

Spark-Stack™ plate stacker for walkaway automation of Tecan Spark® readers Enhance the productivity of your lab with this compact, reliable and field-upgradeable plate stacker. Spark-Stack takes care of typical process steps, such as loading, unloading and re-stacking of non-lidded 6- to 1,536-well plates, and provides a throughput of up to 50 plates per run.

Tab 06 / Webinars Videos

Tomorrow´s imaging multimode plate reader with Smart Automation

Tecan has launched the Spark® multimode microplate reader, offering tailor-made solutions to suit virtually any drug discovery or advanced life science research application. This freely configurable system gives researchers access to new techniques and features intended to enhance and streamline biochemical and cell-based workflows.

At the heart of the instrument are Spark’s unique Fusion Optics and a powerful, ultra-high frequency xenon flash lamp, which can be combined with your choice of high performance detection modules to ensure a perfect match for your workflow.

Options include an enhanced fluorescence module designed to improve sensitivity and increase the speed of high throughput screening, and the newly developed Te-Cool™ cooling module that uniquely allows the measurement chamber temperature to be set below the ambient room temperature for more accurate and reliable results.

The Spark cell handling capabilities have also been extended, with a new automated cell imaging and confluence measurement feature. This allows incubation and monitoring of cell culture microplates within the measurement chamber, enabling the user to define the confluence at which the assay starts/ends or the substrate is injected, for optimal assay results and greater walkaway operation. These new options – combined with the ability to read 1- to 1,536-well microplates – ensure there is a Spark configuration to increase the productivity of your lab, both today and in the future.

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Walk away monitoring of cytotoxicity, viability and apoptosis

Learn how to simplify and automate sell viability and cytotoxicity assessment for your cell analysis workflows.

The webinar will focus on using Promega Cell Health Assays and the Tecan Spark multimode reader to assess cytotoxicity, viability and apoptosis, including kinetic (or real-time) analyses over multiple days.

Increased Confidence of Wound Healing Assays by Assessing Cell Migration and Cell Viability

Dr Katrin Flatscher, Application Scientist, and Dr Michael Fejtl, Market Manager Detection, at Tecan, will describe application of the Spark®Multimode Reader imaging capabilities for monitoring cell migration in wound healing, using the Radius™ 96-well Cell Migration Assay as a test system.

In this webinar, you will learn how the correlation between cellular confluence and intracellular ATP content can be used as an indicator of cell viability and metabolism.

Automated monitoring of differentiation, proliferation and metabolic activity of human stem cells

This hour-long discussion with panelists Dr Rüdiger Arnold, Dr Katrin Flatscher and Moderator, Michael Fejtl, will focus on the real-time analysis of human stem cell differentiation using cell-based assays developed by PromoCell for the sensitive and reproducible assessment and quantification of cell viability, proliferation and apoptosis in a fast and convenient manner, and the Tecan Spark multimode reader.

Battle the heat in your lab - facing distorted results caused by temperature fluctuations

Dr Gediminas Vidugiris of Promega and Dr Katrin Flatscher of Tecan talk about the temperature susceptibility of many biochemical assays and how temperature fluctuations in the lab can distort measurement results. They discuss ways to achieve stable temperature conditions throughout the entire experimental workflow using the Te-coolTM active cooling functionality in the Spark microplate reader. The benefits of active temperature control are demonstrated on the basis of experimental data from cell-based bioluminescent and biofluorescent assays assessing cell viability, metabolism, death and signaling.

Application videos

Discover automated lid lifting in a multimode reader

Spark gives you the efficiency of using the reagent injector and lidded microplates without manual interference. Dispense compounds during a long kinetic run by automatically de-lidding the microplate inside the reader with the built-in Lid-Lifter.

Optimize your assay read-out with the “Spectra Viewer”

A software tool in Spark Control helps to optimize excitation and emission settings of the used fluorophore.

One-click cell counting and viability

The Spark’s cell imaging module offers automated label-free cell counting and trypan blue-based cell viability analysis with an easy-to-use, disposable Cell Chip™.

Full control over your kinetic runs with “kinetic conditioning”

The software feature “kinetic conditioning” in Spark Control allows to automatically set an action, such as starting a another detection mode, as soon as a certain signal is reached in a defined control well.

How to obtain a full absorbance spectrum in below 5 seconds

The innovative design of Spark’s High-speed monochromator delivers an absorbance spectrum between 200-1000 nm in just 5 sec, using a minimum step size of just 1 nm.

How to record a high quality luminescence spectra with a few mouse clicks

The innovative design of the luminescence multicolor optics not only enables for spectral recording of luminescence signals without losing instrument sensitivity.

How to turn the Spark into a microscope

SparkControl turns Spark into a microscope. With the one-click live viewer application images of defined positions in a Cell Chip or a microtiter plate well can be viewed and acquired with 4x magnification. Take a last look before starting your assay.

Automated wound healing and cell migration

Gap closure in a Radius™ 96-well Cell Migration Assay by human biliary tract cancer cells over 30 hours, performed in the Spark reader (5%CO2, 37°C, humidity cassette)

Automated live-cell imaging

Automated live-cell imaging and confluence assessment of human epidermoid carcinoma cells (A431) over 50 hours, performed in the Spark reader (5%CO2, 37°C, humidity cassette)

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The Spark multimode microplate reader platform offers solutions to suit virtually any life science research and drug discovery applications...

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Typical performance values

Spark instrument specifications and typical performance values...

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