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J Photochem Photobiol B. 2000 Mar;55(1):1-8.

Two-photon excitation of fluorescence for three-dimensional optical imaging of biological structures.

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INFM and Department of Physics, University of Genoa, Italy.


Techniques based on two-photon excitation (TPE) allow three-dimensional (3D) imaging in highly localized volumes, of the order of magnitude of a fraction of a femtolitre up to single-molecule detection. In TPE microscopy a fundamental advantage over conventional widefield or confocal 3D fluorescence microscopy is given by the use of infrared (IR) instead of ultraviolet (UV) radiation to excite those fluorophores requiring UV excitation, hence causing little damage to the specimen or to fluorescent molecules outside the volume of the TPE event and allowing a deeper penetration within the sample compared with conventional one-photon excitation of fluorescence. In our laboratory, within the framework of a national INFM project, we have realized a TPE fluorescence microscope, part of a multipurpose architecture also including lifetime imaging and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy modules. The core of the architecture is a mode-locked Ti:sapphire infrared pulsed laser pumped by a high-power (5 W, 532 nm) solid-state laser and coupled to an ultracompact scanning head. For the source we have measured a pulse width from 65 to 95 fs as a function of wavelength (690-830 nm). The scanning head allows conventional and two-photon confocal imaging. Point spread function measurements are reported with examples of applications to the study of biological systems.

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