Courtesy of UVItec
 UVItec's UVIscan system

Most life scientists own lab notebooks bursting with Polaroid film, each frame capturing a piece of agarose-embedded information. Whether those images are priceless or mundane, crystal-clear or blurry, all are one-of-a-kind: Spill a cup of coffee on the notebook, and a piece of data could be lost forever. But thanks to digital gel documentation systems, such worries are receding. "Basic documentation systems have become commodities in the laboratory, part of people's startup packages and maintenance packages," says Renee LeMaire-Adkins, a product line manager at Bio-Rad Laboratories, Hercules, Calif.

A gel documentation system consists fundamentally of a camera, a light source, and a medium for recording images. Traditionally, instant-film cameras satisfied these requirements, and the simplest digital systems--the SpeedLight Jr., from Lightools Research in Encinito, Calif., and the Printgraph manufactured by Atto of Bunkyo-Ku, Japan, for instance--deliver similar functionality, substituting a video or digital...

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