To help countries around the world increase testing for the COVID-19 virus, Chroma Technology Corp. has moved to three-shift, seven-days-a-week production of desperately needed optical filters required for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test systems.

The supplier of optical filters for the life sciences, medical diagnostics and machine vision has seen sharply increased demand from manufacturers of these PCR and Digital PCR systems, which are used to determine if patients are infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. In response, Chroma has placed its priority on the production of these filters, reshuffling manufacturing scheduling and capacity.

Chroma has been supplying high-quality, sputter-coated filters for PCR to major test equipment manufacturers for many years. “This has provided us with valuable experience and application expertise and puts us in a unique position to help in the effort to test as many individuals as possible,” said Newell Lessell, CEO of Chroma. Being a 100% employee-owned company fosters increased engagement, especially when family and loved ones may be at risk.

As an essential business, Chroma moved quickly in early March to reorganize operations to safeguard worker health while ensuring uninterrupted supply to customers. Ramping up on short notice to round-the-clock production presented a challenge, but the company’s employee owners were willing to do whatever was necessary to support this important work. Within a week, the company had turned the lights on and those lights are still burning.

Chroma’s ET Premium Sputtered filters for fluorescence applications, including its filters for PCR, provide unmatched levels of spectral precision. This allows for minimizing the spectral overlap, which is always present between fluorescent probes and optimizing the filter pass bands. The high degree of spectral precision ensures reproducible, reliable results, allowing for six or more distinct fluorescence channels. Coupled with high out-of-band blocking (≥ OD6) and extremely steep transitions from high transmission to deep blocking, these filters deliver the highest available signal-to-noise ratios.