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Keywords:

  • light emitting diode;
  • microscopy illumination;
  • FRET;
  • laser microscopy;
  • FLIM;
  • cytometry

Abstract

Proper illumination is essential for light microscopy. Whereas in early years incandescent light was the only illumination, today, more and more specialized light sources, such as lasers or arc lamps are used. Because of the high efficiency and brightness that light-emitting diodes (LED) have reached today, they have become a serious alternative for almost all kinds of illumination in light microscopy. LED have a high durability, do not need expensive electronics, and they can be switched in nanoseconds. Besides this, they are available throughout the UV/Vis/NIR-spectrum with a narrow bandwidth. This makes them ideal light sources for fluorescence microscopy. The white LED, with a color temperature ranging from 2,600 up to 5,000 K is an excellent choice for bright-field illumination with the additional advantage of simple brightness adjustments without changing the spectrum. This review discusses the different LED types, their use in the fluorescence microscope, and discusses LED as specialized illumination sources for Förster resonance energy transfer and fluorescent lifetime imaging microscopy. © 2012 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry