IOP Project

FLIM-chip improves live cell imaging

Projectnumber: IPD083412
Contact: Prof. dr. ir. I.T. Young
Phone: +31 (0)15 278 53 90

Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM) enables real-time examination of protein interactions in a living cell. A FLIM-microscope uses modulated light to excite fluorescent markers in a sample. By measuring the lifetime of the marker, fluorescence decay in response to the excitation light, the microscope enables cell biologists to analyze, for example, protein-protein interactions.


“The current FLIM-microscopes serve their purpose well,” says prof. dr. ir. Ian T. Young from Delft Technical University, “but there’s room for improvement. A FLIM-microscope uses an Intensified CCD camera, a complex device that requires several kilovolts to operate and costs over € 100.000.” Young intends to improve the current FLIM-design with solid-state technology: “The current FLIM-camera has a lot of optical and electronic parts. A solid-state chip-based camera will be smaller, cheaper, more robust and doesn’t require high voltages.” Such a FLIM-chip must be able to perform accurate measurements at 40 MHz and higher. Young: “And the amount of noise and artifacts should be minimal. We, therefore, have to ensure a good energy balance to minimize thermal noise. And there can’t be too much electronic noise, either. Project partner Dalsa creates and tests chip designs to optimize several variables.


Young’s research group is working on the FLIM camera hardware that uses the chip. The researchers are developing the software in close collaboration with Lambert Instruments, manufacturer of image intensifier-based FLIM systems. Young says: “A molecule is much smaller than a pixel, so one pixel actually receives a combination of several signals. The software has to untangle these signals.” Eventually, Young and his group will build and test to demonstrate that the new FLIM-design is superior to the existing solution.

The description of this project is available as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file:

Adobe Acrobat PDF file  SN PD 6 (85 KB)


Delft University of Technology
Lambert Instruments
The Netherlands Cancer Institute