Photodetection in flow cytometry

Slawomir Piatek, Ph.D., Hamamatsu Corporation and New Jersey Institute of Technology
June 4, 2020

About this webinar

In flow cytometry, the light scattered off an interrogated cell contains information about the cell. The role of a photodetector is to transform this information from light signal to electrical signal. This task makes a photodetector an indispensable component of a functioning flow cytometer. Transformation of information from one domain to another is never lossless. A photodetector, together with the front-end electronics, will always introduce some degree of noise and signal distortion, which impacts ubiquitous-to-flow-cytometry scattered plots. Absent of a perfect photodetector, a practitioner can choose between devices such as a photodiode, avalanche photodiode, photomultiplier tube, or silicon photomultiplier. However, each of these has unique opto-electronic and performance characteristics; therefore, the optimal performance - the smallest impact on the scatter plot – should be the guiding principle in the selection process of the photodetector.

Topics of presentation:

The purpose of this presentation is to provide guidance in this selection process by discussing the above considerations for the four most common point photodetectors:

  1. Discussion of the operation and performance of each device.
  2. Emphasis on intrinsic gain, sources of noise, detection bandwidth, and, most importantly, how these affect the scatter plots and flow cytometry application.

About the presenter

Slawomir S. Piatek has been measuring proper motions of nearby galaxies using images obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope as a senior university lecturer of physics at New Jersey Institute of Technology. He has developed a photonics training program for engineers at Hamamatsu Corporation in New Jersey in the role of a science consultant. Also at Hamamatsu, he is involved in popularizing a SiPM as a novel photodetector by writing and lecturing about it, and by experimenting with the device. He earned a Ph.D. in Physics at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in 1994.

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