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Giron Koetsier, Ph.D. and Eric Cantor, Ph.D., New England Biolabs (NEB)
Microvolume spectrophotometers (MVS) are commonly used for the analysis of nucleic acid (NA) samples. They require a small sample volume (0.5–2.0 μl) and are economical, convenient and widely commercially available. Typically, they can measure NA concentrations as low as 1 ng/μl and they are compatible with various assays for all types of NA and proteins. Concentration and purity readings from MVS are often accepted as fact; however, a more detailed understanding of the readings can provide meaningful insight into the quality of the sample and its suitability for downstream applications. This technical note provides detailed explanations and guidance on how to interpret and use MVS measurements, with a focus on samples purified using silica spin columns.