Practical time-gated luminescence flow cytometry. I: Concepts

Dayong Jin*, Russell Connally, James Piper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The method of time-gated detection of long-lifetime (1-2,000 μs) luminescence-labeled microorganisms following rapid excitation pulses has proved highly efficient in suppressing nontarget autofluorescence (<0.1 μs), scatterings, and other prompt stray light (Hemmila and Mukkala, Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci 2001;38:441-519). The application of such techniques to flow cytometry is highly attractive but there are significant challenges in implementing pulsed operation mode to rapid continuous flowing sample to achieve high cell analysis rates (Leif R, Vallarino L, Rare-earth chelates as fluorescent markers in cell separation and analysis, In: Cell Separation Science and Technology, ACS Symposium Series 464, American Chemical Society, 1991, pp 41-58; Condrau et al., Cytometry 1994;16:187-194; Condrau et al., Cytometry 1994;16:195-205; Shapiro HM, Improving signals from labels: Amplification and other techniques, In: Practical Flow Cytometry, 4th ed., Wiley, New York, 2002, p 345). We present here practical approaches for achieving high cell analysis rates at 100% detection efficiency, using time-gated luminescence (TGL) flow cytometry. In particular, we report that new-generation UV LEDs are practical sources in TGL flow cytometry. Spatial effects of long-lived luminescence from the target fluorophore in a fast-flowing sample stream have been investigated; excitation and detection requirements in TGL flow cytometry were theoretically analyzed; two practical approaches, a triggered model and a continuous flow-section model, were considered as a function of flow speed, sizes and relative positions of the excitation/detection spots, label lifetime, excitation pulse duration/intensity, and detection duration. A particular configuration using LED excitation to detect europium dye-labeled targets in such a system has been modeled in detail. In the triggered model, TGL mode is confined to a low repetition rate (<1 kHz) and engaged only while a target particle is present in the excitation zone. In the flow-section model, TGL mode is engaged continuously at high repetition rates to permit much higher cell arrival rates. The detection of 5.7-μm europium calibration beads in a UV LED-excited TGL flow cytometer has been shown to be feasible with a calculated signal-to-background ratio up to 11:1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-796
Number of pages14
JournalCytometry Part A
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007


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