University of Southern California

Cell Sorting

Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS™) facilitates the purification of single cells based upon fluorescence signature. Sort decisions are based upon laser scatter and fluorescence emissions, assigned a deflection path and sorted via electrostatic deflection of charged droplets to the chosen collection format. Sort efficiency is governed by sample integrity, Poisson statics and sort precision modes. Live cell sorting of human and murine cell types are routinely performed on investigator-prepared cell suspensions.

The state-of-the-art instrumentation housed in the core facility is maintained by core personnel and covered by service contract support. All optimizations necessary to assess proper instrument function and sort performance are performed each day. Theoretically capable of generating up to 100,000 events per second, high-speed cell sorters efficiently enrich cells from large populations within minutes. However, practical operation of the cell sorter is performed at slower rates to ensure efficient capture of target events.

  1. The Aria I and Aria II are available to reserve in one-hour increments. The CORES reservation system books the machine only. Additional charges for core personnel are applied for training sessions. Generally, core personnel initiate instrument setup while end users monitor sort performance with guidance from core personnel. Training for independent use is available as a service to laboratories wishing to run their own experiments without core personnel present. Access to core instrumentation after-hours remains at the discretion of the core director. Available on the Aria cell sorters are the following services:
    • Cell sorting
    • Aria super user training, a two-day comprehensive training class: Users will be completely trained to operate the cell sorter independent from core personnel oversight, thus allowing laboratories to complete more research during closed hours, after-hours and on weekends. The course is optimized for two students per class, delivered over two full days having a total of 15 hours of contact time with both the cell sorter and core personnel. Prerequisites for this course include reviewing cell sorting theory and software manual instructions. Ideal candidates are comfortable using technology and associated computer systems. We recommend that at least one staff employee from each laboratory complete this training. The course pricing underbids training sessions offered by vendors and regional consultation services.
  2. The MoFlo Astrios is available for reservation in one-hour increments. The CORES reservation system books the machine only. Core personnel initiate instrument setup and monitor sort performance. Available on the MoFlo Astrios cell sorter is the following service:
    • Cell sorting
  3. Interested in electrostatic cell sorting? Initiate a discussion today by emailing Jeff Boyd at and Bernadette Masinsin at
  4. Additional theory provided here (link coming soon)
  5. Sorting FAQs