The Microwave Calibration Slide Set is a set of glass slides with liquid crystal temperature strips permanently affixed to them. The slides help you predict the temperature of the staining solution around a tissue section during and after microwave irradiation. You will have two sets of calibration slides for microwave staining. Those labelled Calibration Slide #1 are for low-temperature staining (35°C to 45°C). Those labelled Calibration Slide #2 are for high-temperature staining (50°C to 60°C).
- Do not heat solutions containing the Calibration Slides above 65°C. The warm solution will melt the adhesive on the LCT strip, and the LCT strip will fall off the slides.
- To avoid pressure build-up in the glass or plastic staining jars, do not cover the staining jars.
- If your staining protocol calls for bringing the solution to a boil or for steam at pressure, use a microwave pressure cooker. The unit is designed to safely handle 10lb/in² within a few minutes of heating in a microwave oven. Do not use your Calibration slide Set in the pressure cooker: the high temperature will melt the adhesive on the LCT strip.
- Do not irradiate the neon bulbs longer than 1 minute. They will become too hot to handle and could be damaged. Let the Neon Bulb Array cool for 2 minutes before re-irradiation.
Procedure The Calibrating Your Oven For Batch Microwave Staining:
This procedure will allow you to predict, with confidence, the temperature of the staining solution around the microwave-irradiated tissue sections.
- Distilled water, 150mL
- 3 plastic staining jars, 30mL size.
- Red marker.
- Thermal mitts.
- Microwave finder map, or alpha-numeric oven tray.
- Neon Bulb Array and diagram of Neon Bulb Array.
- Microwave Calibration Slide Set.
- Microwave Tool Book.
- Make sure the alpha-numeric Grid is in the left, rear corner of the microwave oven.
- Warm up the oven electronics by placing a beaker filled with 250mL of water in the right, rear corner of the oven. Program the oven to irradiate for 2 minutes at 100% power. Press start. Begin the next step within 2 minutes after the oven shuts off, or you must repeat this step.
- Place the Neon Bulb Array on top of the alpha-numeric Grid. Align it so the corner with the large dot is at the left rear of the alpha-numeric Grid and oven.
- Close the oven door. Programme the oven to irradiate for 30 seconds at 100% power. Press start.
- Observe the neon bulbs. Look for clusters of three to four bulbs that are continuously lit. Mark the alpha-numeric Grid co-ordinates corresponding to these bulbs on the diagram of your Neon Bulb Array.
- When the oven turns off, let the bulbs cool for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a staining jar with 50mL or room-temperature distilled water.
- Remove enough bulbs from one cluster that was lit so that you can place the staining jar between the bulbs at that co-ordinate.
- Close the oven door. Programme the oven to irradiate at 100% power for 20 seconds. Press start.
- See if bulbs around the staining jar are continuously lit. If bulbs around the jar do not light up, refill the staining jar with 50mL of room temperature distilled water and reposition the jar on the Neon Bulb Array at another maximum power cluster (from step v.) Repeat steps 2 to 9 until you have identified a position where the bulbs remain continuously lit around the staining jar. Record your observations in your notebook.
- With the red marker, mark the alpha-numeric grid at the location identified in step 9, drawing a red circle around the base of the jar. This is the optimal place to put samples for staining procedures. It is an area of maximum power with your loaded staining jar.
- Remove the Neon Bulb Array.
- Refill the staining jar with 50mL of room temperature distilled water and place it on the area marked in red on the alpha-numeric grid.
- Place one calibration slide (from set #1 or set #2, as appropriate for your staining protocol) in the centre slot of the staining jar.
- Programme the oven to irradiate at 100% power for 5 seconds. Press start.
- As soon as the oven shuts off, open the oven door and observe the colour of the liquid crystals on the slide.
- Repeat steps 12 to 15 with the same slide, but adjust the irradiation time until the liquid crystal turns bright green for the target temperature you will use in your staining protocol.
- In your notebook, record the optimal alpha-numeric grid co-ordinates, irradiation time, and temperature for the calibration slides in the staining jar.
- Optional step: If your protocol requires simultaneous use of two to three staining jars, repeat steps 5 to 17 using three staining jars, each filled with 50mL water.
NOTE: Some ovens do not produce enough power to reproducibly heat three jars at once.
Procedure for standardised protocol for batch microwave staining:
Using a standardised protocol for each microwave staining series improves reproducibility. We recommend using this protocol as a guide for adapting published staining protocols for your microwave oven.
Batch Microwave Staining Procedure:
- Warm up the oven electronics for 2 minutes.
- Use the neon bulb array to identify the best location in the oven for microwave staining.
- Use alpha-numeric grid for reproducible placement of the staining jars in the oven.
- Use calibration slides to check irradiation conditions in the loaded microwave cavity.
- Use standardised staining jars.
- Be sure all surfaces in the oven are dry
- Make sure the alpha-numeric grid is in the left, rear corner of the oven.
- Warm up the oven electronics by placing the beaker with 250mL of water in the right, rear corner of the oven. Programme to oven to irradiate for 2 minutes at 100% power. Press start. Begin the next step with 2 minutes after the oven shuts off, or repeat this step.
- Select the calibration slide set that corresponds to the final temperature range you want to achieve. Place the slide in your staining jar.
- Place 50mL of the solution you will use for staining into the staining jar.
- Place the staining jar(s) on the alpha-numeric grid on the co-ordinated recorded from the result 17 above.
- Programme the oven for the power and time conditions described in your microwave staining protocol. Press start. After the microwave oven stops, the calibration slides should show the expected endpoint temperature for the staining protocol. If they do not, check the following conditions against your calibration procedure (above): staining jar location on the alpha-numeric grid, staining solution type, volume, initial temperature, and selected irradiation time and power settings.
- Immerse slides containing tissue sections in 50mL of fresh, room-temperature staining solution in the staining jar(s).
- Irradiate the tissue sections at the alpha-numeric grid co-ordinated for the power and time condition that resulted in the most even heating of the calibration slide set (from step 7). Press start.
- Complete the staining protocol by following the published procedure of your choice.
The Microwave Tool Book - A Practical Guide for Microscopists. Login and Dvorak. Beth Israel Hospital Boston. ISBN 0-9642675-0-0