EasyLife TCSPC

DeltaPro™ Lifetime Technique

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What is TCSPC?

TCSPC (Time-Correlated Single Photon Counting) is the most sensitive and popular method for measuring fluorescence lifetimes. The hardware requirements for a TCSPC system are; pulsed excitation source, single-photon detection module, time digitizer, and decay analysis software. 

TCSPC diagram

The heart of the system is the time digitizer. This can be thought of as a sophisticated stopwatch, where a pulse from the excitation source starts the watch and the detected photons stop it. The stopwatch results are accumulated in a histogram where each column represents a narrow time window after the excitation pulse. As the fluorophores in the sample decay, randomly emitting fluorescence, each photon is detected, timed, counted, and placed in the appropriate histogram column. The process continues (start, stop, count, reset...) until the target quantity of counts is accumulated to reach the required measurement precision. The final histogram represents, in the case of a simple fluorophore, an exponential decay over time. Visual inspection of the data shape provides an intuitive window into the complexity of the sample decay prior to a thorough interpretation using the analysis software.

The main factors to be considered in a TCSPC system are those affecting the temporal resolution (most usefully defined as the shortest lifetime that can be measured). These are typically dominated by the optical pulse width of the excitation source and the transit time spread (TTS, or "jitter") of the single photon detector. Also of importance, considering the photon accumulation process described above, is the efficiency of the system in terms of the timing and processing of photon counts. This relates directly to the repetition rate and the reset time (or deadtime) of the electronics. The DeltaDiode sources operating at up to 100MHz repetition rate, sending a pulse as often as every 10ns, are a perfect match for the DeltaHub, with its ultra low <10ns deadtime. This combination is the most efficient TCSPC system on the market today and allows accurate lifetimes to be acquired in little as 1ms using the DeltaPro™ system. This enables the use of the fluorescence lifetime to monitor kinetic processes. If your measurements require fast acquisition/high throughput, then the DeltaPro™ is the lifetime system for you.

Only one filter based system gives the capability of measuring lifetimes over 11 orders of magnitude (25 ps to 1 s) without the requirement of a costly upgrade. The DeltaPro™ system is the perfect solution for a multi-user facility. 

Advantages of TCSPC with the DeltaPro

  • Single photon sensitivity
  • Ability to measure very weakly emitting samples (femtomolar)
  • Accurate picosecond time resolution
  • Fully digital technique
  • Operates at high repetition rates in concert with ultra low deadtime, leading to short data collection times
  • Compatible with low power excitation sources that are far less likely to cause photobleaching
  • Data has well defined Poisson statistics allowing for more rigorous error analysis.
  • Automatic operation of light sources (full software control)
  • Engineered to offer unbeatable value with standard features including software controlled sample stirring and a phoshorimeter mode
  • No cumbersome PCI cards required

OBB has a policy of continuous product development and reserves the right to amend part numbers, descriptions and specifications without prior notice.
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