Optimum spectral windows to minimize quantum noise of ratiometric intracellular fluorescent probes

M. D. Stern, H. A. Spurgeon, R. Hansford, E. G. Lakatta, M. C. Capogrossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


When fluorescent indicators are used to measure intracellular ligands in single cells, the quality of the data is usually limited by quantum (shot) noise. For indicators which shift excitation or emission wavelengths upon ligand binding, a ratiometric method is usually employed. In choosing the spectral windows for excitation or collection of fluorescence, there is a trade-off between maximum sensitivity to ligand binding, and maximum collection of light. We show that there is a well-defined optimum choice of windows which minimizes the error caused by quantum noise in the estimated ligand concentration. An algorithm for determining these optimum windows is presented. As an example, we consider the measurement of intracellular calcium by indo-1 fluorescence emission ratio in cardiac myocytes. The optimum wavelength bands for collection of fluorescence are considerably wider than those commonly employed. The use of these windows in a pulsed-excitation time-resolved calcium measurement instrument resulted in improved signal to noise ratio of the calcium signal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-534
Number of pages8
JournalCell Calcium
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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