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Appl Opt. 2008 Aug 20;47(24):4405-12.

Scanning flow cytometer modified to distinguish phytoplankton cells from their effective size, effective refractive index, depolarization, and fluorescence.

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Laser Applications Section, Italian Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment (ENEA), Fermi Street 45, 00044 Frascati, Italy.


A laser flow cytometer based on scanning flow cytometry has been assembled. The unpolarized and linearly polarized light-scattering profiles, as well as the side emitted light in different spectral bands, were measured, allowing the simultaneous and real-time determination of the effective size and the effective refractive index of each spherelike particle. Additionally, each particle could be identified from depolarization and fluorescence measured simultaneously. The tests with aqueous samples of polystyrene spheres, fluorescent or nonfluorescent, and phytoplankton cells demonstrate that the system is able to retrieve size and refractive index with an accuracy of 1% and that the depolarization and fluorescence measurements allow the classification of particles otherwise indistinguishable.

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