Flow cytometry has transformed the study and characterization of large populations of cells.
In traditional systems, cells pass through a laser beam in single file at velocities above 1 meter/s. Instead of using just a single detection region, we are developing systems that measure several streams of cells simultaneously. This parallelization enables higher measurement throughput or more sensitive detection by increasing exposure times. Both the fluidic and the optical elements can be made lithographically, so all the components can lie on a single chip.
We have built a multiple channel imaging flow cytometer (MIFC) based on a microfabricated diffractive lens array and a microfluidic channel array, both molded into silicone elastomer. The MIFC system captures images of as many as 20,000 cells per second with diffraction limited resolution.
E. Schonbrun, S. S. Gorthi, and D. Schaak, "Microfabricated multiple field of view imaging flow cytometry," Lab Chip, 12, 268-273 (2012).