Progress in analytical ultracentrifugation (AUC) has been hindered by obstructions to hardware innovation and by software incompatibility. In this paper, we announce and outline the Open AUC Project. The goals of the Open AUC Project are to stimulate AUC innovation by improving instrumentation, detectors, acquisition and analysis software, and collaborative tools. These improvements are needed for the next generation of AUC-based research. The Open AUC Project combines on-going work from several different groups. A new base instrument is described, one that is designed from the ground up to be an analytical ultracentrifuge. This machine offers an open architecture, hardware standards, and application programming interfaces for detector developers. All software will use the GNU Public License to assure that intellectual property is available in open source format. The Open AUC strategy facilitates collaborations, encourages sharing, and eliminates the chronic impediments that have plagued AUC innovation for the last 20 years. This ultracentrifuge will be equipped with multiple and interchangeable optical tracks so that state-of-the-art electronics and improved detectors will be available for a variety of optical systems. The instrument will be complemented by a new rotor, enhanced data acquisition and analysis software, as well as collaboration software. Described here are the instrument, the modular software components, and a standardized database that will encourage and ease integration of data analysis and interpretation software.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00249-009-0438-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.