Low cost, portable chip based flow cytometry has great potential for applications in resource poor and point of care settings. Typical approaches utilise low cost silicon or glass substrates with light emission and detection performed either off-chip using external equipment or incorporated on-chip using ‘pick and place’ diode lasers and photo-detectors. The former approach adds cost and limits portability while the sub-micron alignment tolerances imposed by the application make the latter impractical for all but the simplest of systems. Use of an optically active semiconductor substrate, on the other hand, overcomes these limitations by allowing multiple laser/detector arrays to be formed in the substrate itself using high resolution lithographic techniques.
The capacity for multiple emitters and detectors on a single chip not only enables parallel measurement for increased throughput but also allows multiple measurements to be performed on each cell as it passes through the system. Several different experiments can be performed simultaneously and throughput demand can be reduced with the facility for error checking. Furthermore, the fast switching times inherent with semiconductor lasers allows the active sections of the device to be reconfigured on a sub-microsecond time scale providing additional functionality. This is demonstrated here in a capillary fill system using pairs of laser/detectors that are operated in pulsed mode and alternated between lasing and detecting in an interleaved manner. Passing cells are alternately interrogated from opposing directions providing information that can be used to correct for differences in lateral cell position and ultimately differentiate blood cell type.
Robert Thomas, "Reconfigurable laser arrays with capillary fill microfluidics for chip-based flow cytometry
(Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9705, Microfluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems XIV, 97050I (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 14, 2016; Published: 26 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2213138.4848702684001.
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