Lesson 4: Cytometer Subsystems

Before we delve to deeply into the various applications of flow cytometry, it is best to take the time to gain an understanding of how flow cytometers work. Understanding how the data is actually produced will help you understand the why’s behind the careful design of flow cytometry experiments and what to do in case the experiment does not go as expected.

A flow cytometer, any true flow cytometer, consists of three major subsystems: fluidic, optical and electronic.

While manufacturers continue to build simpler and more efficient cytometers (such as the Gauva Technologies EasyCyte system which significantly reduces the fluidic component), they can still be broken down into the same basic subsytems. The image to the left shows a system layout of a typical cytometer. Of course, the systems are not this simplistic. The image below shows that as you begin to examine each component, the overall system shows increasing levels of complexity.

Expanded Subsystem Analysis


Looking Deeper

Wrapping Up In order to asses your understanding of the material thus far, please email the answers to the following questions to the address below. After receiving this I will provide you with access to the next module.

  • Describe, in your own words, the benefits of a closed flow cell system versus an open flow cell.
  • Describe, in your own words, the meaning of the term dead time.
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