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Fiber-delivery systems enhance flow cytometry designs

Qioptiq Flexible Laser Technology featured in Medical Imaging article in Laser Focus World, November 2012 (article abstract...)

November 14, 2012

kineFLEX fibers are robust laser beam delivery systems, used by major OEMs for over 21 years in diverse applications in market areas such as semiconductor, industrial, environmental, research and medical.

An article discussing the use of free-space optics and the benefits of kineFLEX fiber optic beam delivery systems in instruments for DNA analysis and blood diagnostic applications is to be found in the November 2012 issue of Laser Focus World.



Analytical instruments used in genomics increasingly rely on flow cytometry systems that are fast, rugged, stable and compact with excellent image resolution – qualities enabled by singlemode optical fiber systems that deliver laser beams to the sample.

Advanced research in gene expression and the growing market for high throughput clinical and diagnostic screening are driving step changes in laser photonics technology. Many of these instruments use cutting edge, high specification lasers, optical systems and detectors to achieve reliable, high speed, high-resolution analysis of very small target samples in microfluidics or microarrays. These changes enable the applications to leave the arena of academic research and be used in high volume industrial research, with the ultimate aim of bringing personalised genomics and thereby personalised medicine ever closer.

Many of the screening instruments use high specification lasers, advanced optical systems, and detectors to achieve reliable, high-speed, high-resolution analysis of very small target samples in microfluidics or microarrays. Analytical processes such as DNA and blood analysis – both enabled by flow cytometry techniques – rely upon optical system designs, which in turn are based on free-space optics or optical fiber delivery systems.


DNA analysis is, after immunofluorescence, the second most important application of flow cytometry and it has driven advances in flow cytometry instrumentation. The first mapping of the human genome took ten years to complete; now it takes less than three days, although the data analysis takes much longer. Information can also now be gained more quickly from shorter partial DNA and RNA read lengths to investigate target sections of the DNA strand in order to answer specific queries, such as those related to hereditary diseases or cell and gene mutations as cancer indicators.

Working with what are often irreplaceable samples, researchers in this field need powerful instrumentation that can reliably gather valuable data in a short time, and in a manner that is repeatable between samples and over the long term.   The stability and resolution of the instrument is key, any changes will have significant impact on the quality of the data and the results.

In a similar fashion, blood analysis for diagnostic and immunology purposes is a large and rapidly expanding market. Advances in genetic research are now leading to new diagnostic tests and test equipment.

The design of all these analytical instruments becomes as much about reducing sources of error as it is about improving performance, and fiber delivery of the lasers is a useful tool that addresses both concerns. Optical fiber delivers the additional benefit of allowing the instrument designer to place the lasers in an easily accessible location for field servicing.


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