Newly developed microscopy methods have the goal to give researches in bio-molecular science a better understanding of processes ongoing on a cellular level. Especially two-photon excited fluorescence (TPEF) microscopy is a readily applied and widespread modality. Compared to one photon fluorescence imaging, it is possible to image not only the surface but also deeper lying structures. Together with fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM), which provides information on the chemical composition of a specimen, deeper insights on a molecular level can be gained. However, the need for elaborate light sources for TPEF and speed limitations for FLIM hinder an even wider application. In this contribution, we present a way to overcome this limitations by combining a robust and inexpensive fiber laser for nonlinear excitation with a fast analog digitization method for rapid FLIM imaging. The applied sub nanosecond pulsed laser source is perfectly suited for fiber delivery as typically limiting non-linear effects like self-phase or cross-phase modulation (SPM, XPM) are negligible. Furthermore, compared to the typically applied femtosecond pulses, our longer pulses produce much more fluorescence photons per single shot. In this paper, we show that this higher number of fluorescence photons per pulse combined with a high analog bandwidth detection makes it possible to not only use a single pulse per pixel for TPEF imaging but also to resolve the exponential time decay for FLIM. To evaluate our system, we acquired FLIM images of a dye solution with single exponential behavior to assess the accuracy of our lifetime determination and also FLIM images of a plant stem at a pixel rate of 1 MHz to show the speed performance of our single pulse two-photon FLIM (SP-FLIM) system.

© 2017 SPIE

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