Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) has become a powerful and sensitive research tool for the study of molecular dynamics at the single-molecule level. Because photophysical dynamics often dramatically influence FCS measurements, the role of various photophysical processes in FCS measurements must be understood to accurately interpret FCS data. We describe the role of excitation saturation in two-photon fluorescence correlation measurements. We introduce a physical model that characterizes the effects of excitation saturation on the size and shape of the two-photon fluorescence observation volume and derive a new analytical expression for fluorescence correlation functions that includes the influence of saturation. With this model, we can accurately describe both the temporal decay and the amplitude of measured fluorescence correlation functions over a wide range of illumination powers.
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