Frontiers of Physics in China

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 88–104

Fluorescence lifetime imaging in biosciences: technologies and applications

Review Article


The biosciences require the development of methods that allow a non-invasive and rapid investigation of biological systems. In this aspect, high-end imaging techniques allow intravital microscopy in real-time, providing information on a molecular basis. Far-field fluorescence imaging techniques are some of the most adequate methods for such investigations. However, there are great differences between the common fluorescence imaging techniques, i.e., wide-field, confocal one-photon and two-photon microscopy, as far as their applicability in diverse bioscientific research areas is concerned. In the first part of this work, we briefly compare these techniques. Standard methods used in the biosciences, i.e., steady-state techniques based on the analysis of the total fluorescence signal originating from the sample, can successfully be employed in the study of cell, tissue and organ morphology as well as in monitoring the macroscopic tissue function. However, they are mostly inadequate for the quantitative investigation of the cellular function at the molecular level. The intrinsic disadvantages of steady-state techniques are countered by using time-resolved techniques. Among these fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) is currently the most common. Different FLIM principles as well as applications of particular relevance for the biosciences, especially for fast intravital studies are discussed in this work.


time-resolved fluorescence microscopy fluorescence lifetime imaging multi-focal two-photon microscopy time-gating 

PACS numbers

87.64.-t 32.50.+d 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Helmholtz Centre for Infection ResearchBraunschweigGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Physical and Theoretical ChemistryTechnical University BraunschweigBraunschweigGermany

Personalised recommendations