Journal of Low Temperature Physics

, Volume 193, Issue 5–6, pp 1228–1235 | Cite as

Confocal Microscopy Imaging with an Optical Transition Edge Sensor

  • D. FukudaEmail author
  • K. Niwa
  • K. Hattori
  • S. Inoue
  • R. Kobayashi
  • T. Numata


Fluorescence color imaging at an extremely low excitation intensity was performed using an optical transition edge sensor (TES) embedded in a confocal microscope for the first time. Optical TES has the ability to resolve incident single photon energy; therefore, the wavelength of each photon can be measured without spectroscopic elements such as diffraction gratings. As target objects, animal cells labeled with two fluorescent dyes were irradiated with an excitation laser at an intensity below \(1\,\upmu \hbox {W}\). In our confocal system, an optical fiber-coupled TES device is used to detect photons instead of the pinhole and photomultiplier tube used in typical confocal microscopes. Photons emitted from the dyes were collected by the objective lens, and sent to the optical TES via the fiber. The TES measures the wavelength of each photon arriving in an exposure time of 70 ms, and a fluorescent photon spectrum is constructed. This measurement is repeated by scanning the target sample, and finally a two-dimensional RGB-color image is obtained. The obtained image showed that the photons emitted from the dyes of mitochondria and cytoskeletons were clearly resolved at a detection intensity level of tens of photons. TES exhibits ideal performance as a photon detector with a low dark count rate (\(<\,1\) Hz) and wavelength resolving power. In the single-mode fiber-coupled system, the confocal microscope can be operated in the super-resolution mode. These features are very promising to realize high-sensitivity and high-resolution photon spectral imaging, and would help avoid cell damage and photobleaching of fluorescence dyes.


Fluorescence Photobleaching Dark count Detection efficiency Resolution 



A part of this work was supported by the JST CREST Grant Number JPMJCR17N4, Japan. The devices were fabricated partly in the clean room for analog-digital superconductivity (CRAVITY) in the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). A part of this work was conducted at the AIST Nano-Processing Facility, supported by Nanotechnology Platform Program of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Fukuda
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • K. Niwa
    • 1
  • K. Hattori
    • 1
  • S. Inoue
    • 2
  • R. Kobayashi
    • 1
    • 2
  • T. Numata
    • 1
  1. 1.National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and TechnologyTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Nihon UniversityChiyoda-kuJapan

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