Photodetection in flow cytometry

Slawomir Piatek, PhD, Hamamatsu Corporation and New Jersey Institute of Technology
September 10, 2019

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 among 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. The webinar discusses the operation and performance of each device, emphasizing topics such as intrinsic gain, sources of noise, detection bandwidth, and, most importantly, how these affect the scatter plots.

About the presenter

Slawomir Piatek, PhD, is a senior university lecturer of physics at New Jersey Institute of Technology. In his role as scientific consultant at Hamamatsu Corporation, he has developed a photonics training program for engineers and is involved in popularizing SiPM as a novel photodetector by writing and lecturing about the device.

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