Near infrared two-photon excitation cross-sections of voltage-sensitive dyes

J Neurosci Methods. 2005 Oct 15;148(1):94-102. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2005.06.027. Epub 2005 Aug 29.


Microscopy based on voltage-sensitive dyes has proven effective for revealing spatio-temporal patterns of neuronal activity in vivo and in vitro. Two-photon microscopy using voltage-sensitive dyes offers the possibility of wide-field visualization of membrane potential on sub-cellular length scales, hundreds of microns below the tissue surface. Very little information is available, however, about the utility of voltage-sensitive dyes for two-photon imaging purposes. Here we report on measurements of two-photon fluorescence excitation cross-sections for nine voltage-sensitive dyes in a solvent, octanol, intended to simulate the membrane environment. Ultrashort light pulses from a Ti:sapphire laser were used for excitation from 790 to 960 nm, and fluorescein dye was used as a calibration standard. Overall, dyes RH795, RH421, RH414, di-8-ANEPPS, and di-8-ANEPPDHQ had the largest two-photon excitation cross-sections ( approximately 15 x 10(-50)cm4 s photon(-1)) in this wavelength region and are therefore potentially useful for two-photon microscopy. Interestingly, di-8-ANEPPDHQ, a chimera constructed from the potentiometric dyes RH795 and di-8-ANEPPS, exhibited larger cross-sections than either of its constituents.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Photons*
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared / methods*
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Fluorescent Dyes