Cytometry and Antibody Technology


The cell sorters can be divided into two categories: droplet-based and mechanical.

Droplet-Based Sorters
Droplet-based sorters have been an icon of flow cytometry core facilities for decades. The technology is based on breaking up the stream into droplets, and charging the ones containing the cells of interests in order to deflect them into a collection vessel. It allows for a very quick and efficient isolation of up to 6 different sub-populations from the initial sample. Sorting can be done in bulk, or on a single-cell basis for culture or sequencing. The pressure applied on the sample is typically higher on a droplet-based sorter (30psi to 70 psi), and the collected cells are mixed with 1X PBS. This may result in lower viability for some type of cells.
Mechanical Sorters
Mechanical cell sorting uses a high-speed valve to “scoop” the cells of interest away from the rest of the sample as it travels through the microfluidics. The advantages are notable when biosafety or sterility concerns are primary concerns. Secondly, since the pressure applied to the cells is low (3psi), and the sample is never mixed with any fluids coming from the sorter, the cells usually show better viability at the end of the sort when compared to the droplet-based sorters. Only 1 population can be sorted at a time, and plate sorting is not possible.

Choosing a Cell Sorter

When selecting a cell sorter you’ll first want to ensure that the instrument has the appropriate lasers and detectors for your panel, which can be done with the “Sorter Fluorophore Comparison Table” below. If you don’t have a panel yet, be sure to design it for the chosen sorter! The second component of sorter selection is to determine if your specific experiment will benefit from the special features available on certain instruments. An overview of the different features is provided below. Feel free to contact the staff if you need further assistance determining the best sorter for your experiment!


Patient samples are only allowed on the Aria Fusion, Bigfoot and Tyto.

New to the cell sorting service? Check out the FAQ for tips on preparing for your first cell sorting experiment.


A quick overview of which fluorophores can be used on each cytometer (not an exhaustive list). See dedicated sorter pages for more detailed optical configurations.
Compare features of all cell sorters.

Available Sorters

More details on each sorter can be found on the dedicated pages linked below. This may include further information about special features, detailed configuration and optical layout, troubleshooting tips, and anything else specific to the sorter.

Note: The CAT Facility staff and iLab scheduler site use nomenclature to specifically identify each instrument: Model_# lasers-# detectors. When publishing data from CAT Facility instruments please see the Boilerplate Texts under the About menu for guidance on writing the methods section.


Droplet-Based Sorters
FACSAria II 4-15, FACSAria Fusion 5-18, FACSAria III 3-14


Droplet-Based Sorter
Traditional and spectral capabilities

MACSQuant Tyto

Mechanical Sorter


The droplet-based sorters are billed at an hourly rate with pricing differences for assisted vs unassisted sorting. The MACSQuant Tyto pricing is a combination of the hourly rate and single-use cartridge.