Single-photon peak event detection (SPEED): A computational method for fast photon counting in fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy

Janet E. Sorrells, Rishyashring R. Iyer, Lingxiao Yang, Eric J. Chaney, Marina Marjanovic, Haohua Tu, Stephen A. Boppart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) characterizes samples by examining the temporal properties of fluorescence emission, providing useful contrast within samples based on the local physical and biochemical environment of fluorophores. Despite this, FLIM applications have been limited in scope by either poor accuracy or long acquisition times. Here, we present a method for computational single-photon counting of directly sampled time-domain FLIM data that is capable of accurate fluorescence lifetime and intensity measurements while acquiring over 160 Mega-counts-per-second with sub-nanosecond time resolution between consecutive photon counts. We demonstrate that our novel method of Single-photon PEak Event Detection (SPEED) is more accurate than direct pulse sampling and faster than established photon counting FLIM methods. We further show that SPEED can be implemented for imaging and quantifying samples that benefit from higher -throughput and -dynamic range imaging with real-time GPU-accelerated processing and use this capability to examine the NAD(P)H-related metabolic dynamics of apoptosis in human breast cancer cells. Computational methods for photon counting such as SPEED open up more opportunities for fast and accurate FLIM imaging and additionally provide a basis for future innovation into alternative FLIM techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37759-37775
Number of pages17
JournalOptics Express
Issue number23
StatePublished - Nov 8 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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