A Stream That Does Not Flow The Entire Year Flow Cytometry – Flow Cell Care and Maintenance

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Flow Cytometry – Flow Cell Care and Maintenance

Improper use and care of flow cytometry cells can lead to false readings and erroneous data. Improper care can also mean spending hours on the phone with customer service, sending your machine in for service, or replacing flow cytometer cells entirely. In some cases the entire optics system has to be pulled out to replace the cell.

Chemicals to stay away from

Today’s industry standard is that most flow cytometry cells are made from quartz windows or fused silica components, so it is important to avoid alkaline solutions with a pH greater than 9.5. These solutions can attack the quartz and degrade the optical performance. What happens is that these solutions can etch the quartz making the flow channel cell almost useless. Users will see “streaks” in the channel of the flow cell, and if these streaks appear where the laser or detector is, the cell will stop working.

How to avoid crystallization

It is very important to avoid crystallization. To avoid crystallization in the flow chamber, the user should always rinse it with water. Thorough flushing is essential after running buffer or salt solutions, especially high pH solutions. Whenever scientists leave an apparatus unused overnight, it is important to ensure that the flow chamber contains at least 10% organic mobile phase to prevent algae growth. Special coatings can be applied to the quartz material to prevent this type of growth.

Cleanliness

Clean flow capillaries and optical connectors/assemblies are critical to ensure proper operation of any flow cytometer or any machine that uses a flow channel cell. An important note is not to allow the solution to dry out in the flow channel cell. Solutions containing dissolved salts, proteins, or other solid solutes can damage the flow path. Also researchers must be careful not to allow particles into the flow cell as this can cause damage to the flow cell, such as scratching. Scratches will negatively affect the performance of the flow cell and if they are in the detector area, the flow cell will not work.

For easy cleaning, flush a small amount of distilled water through the flow cytometry cell. Take a syringe and fill it with a 10% surface active detergent solution. Insert the syringe into the flow channel and spray the detergent into the cell. After a few squirts, leave the solution in the flow chamber for a little over 2 hours. Wash the flow cell thoroughly using distilled water.

A cell can remain full of buffer overnight. Weekend and long-term storage NSG recommends flushing the flow cell with distilled water and then filling it with 20% ethanol. The flow channel can be dried using a stream of clean nitrogen for drying purposes.

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