FlowCam® - Flow Imaging Microscopy Blog

FlowCam Imaging: Spanning the Range from Submicron to Subvisible to Visible Particles

The recently launched FlowCam Nano extends well-established flow imaging microscopy technology for subvisible particle analysis into the submicron size range. With its unique ability to capture images and analyze particles from 300 nm to 2 µm in diameter, FlowCam Nano technology offers the ability to bridge the gap between different particle analysis techniques. 

FlowCam was originally invented at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences (BLOS) in 1997 by Chris Sieracki, and at the time, it represented the world’s first imaging flow cytometer. It revolutionized the tedious and slow process of manual examination of phytoplankton via microscopy by providing a semi-automated method to rapidly count, measure, and analyze individual cells and particles in a fluid sample using digital images.  

Pictured at right, inventor Chris Sieracki with a FlowCam prototype that was deployed on the dock at Bigelow Labs in the late 90s.

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Topics: Marine Research, FlowCam Technology, Aquatic Research

New Applications for FlowCam in Biotherapeutic Development

Pictured above, protein aggregates, sucrose particles, and E. coli as
imaged by FlowCam Nano. Equivalent spherical diameter (in µm)
for each particle is shown below their image.

Many new types of biotherapeutic Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) such as viruses, nanomedicines including virus-like particles and lipid nanoparticles, and cell-based medicinal products have recently experienced a significant surge in interest. Like proteins before them, formulations of these APIs contain particles that need to be characterized to ensure product quality and efficacy. Particle characterization technologies like FlowCam thus continue to play a critical role in developing and manufacturing safe biotherapeutics regardless of the API. 

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Topics: Protein Therapeutics, FlowCam Technology, Biopharmaceutical Research, Nanoparticles

Meet FlowCam Nano: Submicron Particle Imaging and Sizing

We’re excited to announce the next-generation FlowCam Nano! The newest member of our FlowCam instrument family detects and images particles between 300 nm and 2 µm—the smallest objects visible by light microscopy.

FlowCam Nano can be used to determine the types of submicron particles present in samples, such as biotherapeutic particles or aggregates, drug delivery vehicles, bacterial cells, and other nanoparticles of interest. If not addressed, many of these smaller particles are prone to agglomeration into larger subvisible and visible particles. FlowCam Nano may be used to identify and mitigate these smaller particles before larger ones will form. Other species like bacterial cells inherently exhibit a size near or below the lower size limit of FlowCam 8000 and will only be detected by FlowCam Nano.

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Topics: Protein Therapeutics, News and Events, FlowCam Technology, Biopharmaceutical Research, Nanoparticles

FlowCam Customer Methodologies to be Presented at the 2nd Annual Virtual Harmful Algal Bloom Research Symposium

In early January, the Algal Bloom Action Team, a collaboration of water professionals, researchers, and educators from twelve states in the North Central Region of the United States is hosting its 2nd annual Virtual Harmful Algal Bloom Research Symposium. Team members include the national network of Water Resources Research Institutes (WRRI), the North Central Region Water Network, and university extensions within each state in the North Central Region. The free-to-attend symposium will bring together researchers from across the US to present and discuss the latest developments in HAB research and outreach. Presentations will cover four different topics:

  • HAB Monitoring and Ecology
  • Cyanotoxin Treatment and Detection
  • Forecasting and Modeling HABs
  • Emerging Technology for Detecting and Monitoring HABs
Virtual Harmful Algal Bloom Research Symposium 2022
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Topics: Freshwater Research, News and Events, Harmful Algal Blooms, Municipal Water (Drinking/Wastewater), User Spotlight, Aquatic Research

2021 - The FlowCam Year in Review

2021 was a year that brought many changes to all of us. Among the most significant for the FlowCam team was the return to traveling for demonstrations, installations, training & services, and in-person conferences. Given the success of our remote training options, we continue to offer online training via FlowCam University and individual virtual demonstrations and training.  

Pictured at left, Applications Scientist Stephen Barton trains a team of new FlowCam users.

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Topics: News and Events, FlowCam Technology

FlowCam Cyano is Part of a Proactive Water Quality Monitoring Effort

This past summer in June, The Gaffney Board of Public Works (GBPW), in South Carolina, issued a water quality advisement and posted signs around Lake Welchel in Cherokee County. An algal bloom on a portion of the lake exceeded the state’s water quality standards for Microcystis, a type of toxic cyanobacteria.

Microcystis FlowCam Cyano 10X - croppedLyngbya (002)

Pictured above, Microcystis (left) and Lyngbya (right) as imaged by FlowCam.

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Topics: Invasive Species, Harmful Algal Blooms, Municipal Water (Drinking/Wastewater)

FlowCam for the Characterization of Abrasive Compounds

Superabrasives, such as micronized diamonds and cubic boron nitride (CBN), are used extensively in applications for cutting, grinding, and drilling hard materials. The effectiveness of a particular superabrasive material in a given application is largely determined by both particle size and particle shape. 

Above images: Left, mixed diamond powder, particle property shown is Diameter ESD.
Right, high circularity diamond powder particles, filtered by circularity.

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Topics: Industrial Applications, Abrasives

Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians Integrate FlowCam into Environmental Stewardship Programs

The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI) recently received long-awaited funding to purchase a FlowCam Cyano instrument, after first learning about FlowCam at an east coast workshop a few years ago. CTCLUSI makes up three tribes (4 bands) who all reside in close proximity to one another along the Coos River Tributaries in Oregon. According to the CTCLUSI website:

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Topics: Marine Research, Freshwater Research, Invasive Species, Harmful Algal Blooms, Municipal Water (Drinking/Wastewater), User Spotlight, Aquatic Research

Community Groups Take HAB Monitoring Into Their Own Hands, Recognize Need for Formal Strategic Guidelines

Harmful algal blooms can have a detrimental effect on the environment and on human and animal health. As a result of climate change, water utilities are experiencing these events with increasing frequency. Historically, many water monitoring agencies have not had a plan in place to proactively monitor for cyanobacteria, but rather found themselves reacting to the effects of a bloom after the fact.

Last month, the US EPA released a report that addresses concerns within the agency about the lack of a cohesive, agency-wide plan to monitor freshwater bodies for harmful algal blooms (HABs):

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Topics: Freshwater Research, Harmful Algal Blooms, Municipal Water (Drinking/Wastewater), User Spotlight, Aquatic Research

Comparing FlowCam Results with Light Obscuration: A Study by Japan's National Institute of Health Sciences

In their recent publication, Quantitative Evaluation of Insoluble Particulate Matters in Therapeutic Protein Injections Using Light Obscuration and Flow Imaging Methods, Shibata et. al. compare the ability of Light Obscuration and Flow Imaging to detect and accurately characterize subvisible particles in injectable drugs.

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Topics: Protein Therapeutics, FlowCam Technology, User Spotlight, Biopharmaceutical Research