The Spectral Flow Cytometer

Michael Zordan

(Sony Biotechnology)

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Date: February 18, 2015


Spectral flow cytometry is an exciting technology for cytomics and systems biology. Spectral flow cytometry differs from conventional flow cytometry in that the measured parameters for events are fluorescence spectra taken across all detectors as opposed to being primarily the fluorescence signal measured from one detector. This gives spectral flow cytometry capabilities and flexibility that far exceeds those of conventional flow cytometry.

There are several different hardware schemes that can be used to measure spectral data from cells. The core functions that a spectral detection scheme must have are:
1. A means to spatially separate collected light based on wavelength.
2. A multichannel detection system that will simultaneously measure the signals at different wavelengths independently.
3. The data processing power to perform spectral unmixing for real time display.

These fundamental differences enable spectral flow cytometers to perform applications that are not readily possible on conventional flow cytometers. Cellular autofluorescence can be used as a parameter in spectral flow cytometry, giving up new options for analysis that are not present in conventional flow cytometry. Additionally, because a spectral flow cytometer measures the whole fluorescence spectrum for each fluorophore, overlapping fluorophores can be resolved based on spectral shape allowing for the use of markers that would not be resolvable by conventional flow cytometry. Sony Biotechnology Inc. has recently released the SP6800, the world’s first commercial spectral flow cytometer.

Further Information:

Michael is a Staff Engineer at Sony Biotechnology Inc. specializing in the design and use of flow cytometry instrumentation, with particular emphasis on the optical design of the systems. He has been a lead engineer on the SY3200 cell sorter, the EC800 flow analyzer and has contributed to the SP6800 Spectral Analyzer. He received a Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2010 in Biomedical Engineering where he developed optical methods for the detection and isolation of single rare cells. He is an ISAC Scholar, and a member of the ISAC Data Standards Task Force. His current research interests include spectral cell analysis and next generation cellular analysis techniques.

Created: Monday, February 23rd, 2015