Modern flow cytometry instruments have become vital tools for high-throughput analysis of single cells. However, as issues with the cellular labeling techniques often used in flow cytometry have become more of a concern, the development of label-free modalities for cellular analysis is increasingly desired. Non-linear optical phenomena (NLO) are of growing interest for label-free analysis because of the ability to measure the intrinsic optical response of biomolecules found in cells. We demonstrate that a light-sheet consisting of a scanned Bessel beam is an optimal excitation geometry for efficiently generating NLO signals in a microfluidic environment. The balance of photon density and cross-sectional area provided by the light-sheet allowed significantly larger two-photon fluorescence intensities to be measured in a model polystyrene microparticle system compared to measurements made using other excitation focal geometries, including a relaxed Gaussian excitation beam often used in conventional flow cytometers.
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