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14 March 2016 Temporal and spatial binning of TCSPC data to improve signal-to-noise ratio and imaging speed
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Time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) is the most robust method for fluorescence lifetime imaging using laser scanning microscopes. However, TCSPC is inherently slow making it ineffective to capture rapid events due to the single photon product per laser pulse causing extensive acquisition time limitations and the requirement of low fluorescence emission efficiency to avoid bias of measurement towards short lifetimes. Furthermore, thousands of photons per pixel are required for traditional instrument response deconvolution and fluorescence lifetime exponential decay estimation. Instrument response deconvolution and fluorescence exponential decay estimation can be performed in several ways including iterative least squares minimization and Laguerre deconvolution. This paper compares the limitations and accuracy of these fluorescence decay analysis techniques to accurately estimate double exponential decays across many data characteristics including various lifetime values, lifetime component weights, signal-to-noise ratios, and number of photons detected. Furthermore, techniques to improve data fitting, including binning data temporally and spatially, are evaluated as methods to improve decay fits and reduce image acquisition time. Simulation results demonstrate that binning temporally to 36 or 42 time bins, improves accuracy of fits for low photon count data. Such a technique reduces the required number of photons for accurate component estimation if lifetime values are known, such as for commercial fluorescent dyes and FRET experiments, and improve imaging speed 10-fold.
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Alex J. Walsh and Hope T. Beier "Temporal and spatial binning of TCSPC data to improve signal-to-noise ratio and imaging speed", Proc. SPIE 9712, Multiphoton Microscopy in the Biomedical Sciences XVI, 97120R (14 March 2016);

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