Cytometer on a Chip
The Cytometer on a Chip will provide a powerful alternative to conventional flow cytometry. This system spatially sorts cells on a microarray chip based on the presence of specific cell surface markers. Detection is accomplished with grating-coupled surface plasmon resonance imaging (GCSPRI). This is a label-free detection technology that eliminates the need to fluorescently label the cells, as is necessary with conventional flow cytometry. This innovation will reliably measure cellular composition while avoiding the limitations of traditional flow cytometry. Since the cells are run over the chip surface, there is no requirement for the stringent optical alignments that are so essential to fluorescence-based cytometry. Moreover, the system does not require the narrow orifice of the flow cell that is used by most traditional cytometers, so is far less susceptible to clogging or to flow disturbances caused by accumulation of adsorbed proteins or air bubbles. Finally, it eliminates the complexity, mass and power associated with laser and detection systems traditionally used in flow cytometry. These features, and the fact that the technology is amenable to miniaturization and low power operation, make the cytometer on a chip system ideally suited to the assessment of immune function in space and to cost-effective, rapid, on site clinical diagnostics.
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