Standard Article


  1. C Van Kirk,
  2. LA Feinberg,
  3. DJ Robertson,
  4. WM Freeman,
  5. KE Vrana

Published Online: 15 SEP 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0002973.pub2



How to Cite

Van Kirk, C., Feinberg, L., Robertson, D., Freeman, W. and Vrana, K. 2010. Phosphorimager. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2010


Phosphorimaging is a form of solid-state liquid scintillation where radioactive material can be both localised and quantified. Similar to traditional autoradiographic techniques (in that it relies on high-energy particle decay), phosphorimaging can recognise radiolabelled deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), ribonucleic acid (RNA) and protein targets in a variety of sample preparations, such as gels, blots, homogenised tissues, cell populations, arrays and tissue slices. Although more expensive than traditional X-ray film technology, phosphorimaging is more sensitive, develops images more rapidly and has a greater dynamic range than X-ray film, which has made it a popular choice for several applications in molecular biology. Current applications include, but are not limited to, in situ hybridisation, ligand-binding pharmacology, as well as Southern, northern and western blotting.

Key Concepts:

  • Phosphorimaging allows for both localisation and quantification of targets.

  • Potential targets include radiolabelled DNA, RNA, proteins and posttranslational protein modifications.

  • Phosphorimaging can be performed on media including gels, homogenised samples, cell populations, arrays and tissue slices.

  • Phosphorimaging identifies and quantifies its target through the measurement of light emitted from excited electrons returning to their ground state. These electrons are stimulated to higher energy levels by radioactivity emitted from the target and light is released as the electrons return to their ground state.

  • Although phosphorimaging is more expensive and has lower resolution than traditional X-ray film detection and quantification methods, phosphorimaging affords greater sensitivity, faster image development, reusable detection plates and enhanced linear dynamic range.


  • autoradiography;
  • image plate;
  • radioactivity