The thermal cycler also called the PCR thermal cycler, or thermo cycler or the DNA amplifier is the laboratory instrument usually applied to amplify the segments of DNA through polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR thermal cyclers can also be utilized in laboratories for facilitating temperature sensitive processes and reactions such as restriction enzyme digestion or fast diagnostics. The thermal cycler contains a thermal block having holes, with the tubes that hold the reaction mixtures. They cycler then starts raising and lowering the temperature of the block in a preprogrammed and discrete manner.
PCR thermal cyclers composition, shape and efficiency are all being enhanced with the help of latest technological advancements and microarray products. If you see the contemporary thermal cyclers, you would observe that these are given a heated lid pressing against the reaction tubes lids. Due to the composition like in this manner, the condensation of water arising from the reaction mixture is avoided to be made on the internal sides of the lids. Traditionally, mineral oil layer was used to be applied for the same purpose, but now it’s all changed.
There are certain thermal cyclers that are equipped with various blocks letting many different PCR reactions to be executed at the same time. In addition, certain models also possess gradient function enabling different temperatures to happen in various segments of the block. This feature is especially suitable if you are testing any suitable annealing temperature for the PCR primers. Hence, with time, more specifications are going to be added this way in order to enhance the functionality of the instrument.
The PCR thermal cyclers historically were quite expensive and usually cost thousands of dollars. However, with time, the mass production and latest developments in the field of open source hardware designs, especially those commercially made for purchase have resulted in much lower prices.