Elder, AD; Frank, JH; Swartling, J; Dai, X; Kaminski, CF, "Calibration of a wide-field frequency-domain fluorescence lifetime microscopy system using light emitting diodes as light sources", JOURNAL OF MICROSCOPY-OXFORD 224:166-180(2006)
High brightness light emitting diodes are an inexpensive and versatile light source for wide-field frequency-domain fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy. In this paper a full calibration of an LED based fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy system is presented for the first time. A radiofrequency generator was used for simultaneous modulation of light emitting diode (LED) intensity and the gain of an intensified charge coupled device (CCD) camera. A homodyne detection scheme was employed to measure the demodulation and phase shift of the emitted fluorescence, from which phase and modulation lifetimes were determined at each image pixel. The system was characterized both in terms of its sensitivity to measure short lifetimes (500 ps to 4 ns), and its capability to distinguish image features with small lifetime differences. Calibration measurements were performed in quenched solutions containing Rhodamine 6G dye and the results compared to several independent measurements performed with other measurement methodologies, including time correlated single photon counting, time gated detection, and acousto optical modulator (AOM) based modulation of excitation sources. Results are presented from measurements and simulations. The effects of limited signal-to-noise ratios, baseline drifts and calibration errors are discussed in detail. The implications of limited modulation bandwidth of high brightness, large area LED devices (∼40 MHz for devices used here) are presented. The results show that phase lifetime measurements are robust down to sub ns levels, whereas modulation lifetimes are prone to errors even at large signal-to-noise ratios. Strategies for optimizing measurement fidelity are discussed. Application of the fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy system is illustrated with examples from studies of molecular mixing in microfluidic devices and targeted drug delivery research.