The common link between a nearly empty bottle of ketchup and the preparation of viruses for study is centrifugation. In the kitchen, a small centrifugal force pushes the ketchup to the mouth of the bottle, but in the lab, very high centrifugal forces precisely separate the components of a sample. Ultracentrifuges can reach speeds of well over 60,000 rotations per minute (rpm) and generate forces of over 1 million g-forces. Such high speeds are required to separate samples based on tiny differences in mass among molecules such as proteins, nucleic acids, DNA, vesicles, and viruses.
Isolating extracellular vesicles (EVs), important mediators of cellular communication, is a unique use for ultracentrifugation. Researchers exploring EVs as biomarkers and therapeutic targets must use ultracentrifugation to isolate them from the extracellular biofluid. Other applications in biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, and polymer science, make ultracentrifugation a prominent player in the modern-day lab. However, ultracentrifuges can be dangerous to operate given the high speeds at play. Eppendorf designed their ultracentrifuges to be as safe and convenient as possible while reaching speeds of up to 1,050,000 x g (150,000 rpm). Their centrifuges feature a high imbalance tolerance that allows for visual balancing rather than using a scale to balance the tubes. Along with digital logs and intuitive user interfaces, Eppendorf’s CS-(F)NX series enables stress-free and easy ultracentrifugation.