A new rapid lifetime determination method (RLD) that uses a rectangular excitation is presented. The information from the exciting, as well as the emitting, portion is used to extract decay parameters for a single exponential decay. The lifetime is computed from the ratio of the integrals of the emission during the excitation period and an equal time interval during the decay (Δ<i>t</i>). The new square-wave RLD method (SWRLD) shows speed similar to the standard RLD method but without the necessity of matching Δ<i>t</i> to the lifetime for precise results. Monte Carlo simulations are used to predict the capabilities of the SWRLD, and the theory is tested with a luminescent terbium complex. The method is particularly applicable to rapid lifetime analysis for high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and for fluorescence microscopy. It lends itself to use with inexpensive square-wave modulated light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

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