High-speed, random-access fluorescence microscopy: I. High-resolution optical recording with voltage-sensitive dyes and ion indicators

Biophys J. 1997 Jul;73(1):477-91. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(97)78086-X.


The design and implementation of a high-speed, random-access, laser-scanning fluorescence microscope configured to record fast physiological signals from small neuronal structures with high spatiotemporal resolution is presented. The laser-scanning capability of this nonimaging microscope is provided by two orthogonal acousto-optic deflectors under computer control. Each scanning point can be randomly accessed and has a positioning time of 3-5 microseconds. Sampling time is also computer-controlled and can be varied to maximize the signal-to-noise ratio. Acquisition rates up to 200k samples/s at 16-bit digitizing resolution are possible. The spatial resolution of this instrument is determined by the minimal spot size at the level of the preparation (i.e., 2-7 microns). Scanning points are selected interactively from a reference image collected with differential interference contrast optics and a video camera. Frame rates up to 5 kHz are easily attainable. Intrinsic variations in laser light intensity and scanning spot brightness are overcome by an on-line signal-processing scheme. Representative records obtained with this instrument by using voltage-sensitive dyes and calcium indicators demonstrate the ability to make fast, high-fidelity measurements of membrane potential and intracellular calcium at high spatial resolution (2 microns) without any temporal averaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Equipment Design
  • Fluorescent Dyes*
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Ions
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / instrumentation*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Software
  • Time Factors


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Ions
  • Organic Chemicals
  • calcium orange