Light BYTES: March 2018

6-Color Imaging with the SPECTRA X light engine®

In mammalian tissues, fluorescence excitation in the near infrared (nIR) wavelength region (>650 nm) is useful to avoid the confounding effects of visible-range autofluorescence. The image shown here, generously provided by Dr. Matt Kofron (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center), exemplifies this advantage by utilizing excitation light from a Lumencor light engine. The specimen is a human kidney section, imaged at 20X magnification. The tissue exhibits high levels of autofluorescence from red blood cells excited at 445 nm, which is pseudocolored yellow in this image. White represents cytokeratin immunodetection using a secondary antibody labeled with the near-infrared fluorophore Alexa Fluor 750. Nucleii stained with DAPI are shown in blue.

Expanding the spectral range into the near-infrared also increases the number of targets that can be simultaneously detected by multicolor fluorescence imaging. A total of 5 targets plus autofluorescence are present in the image, making use of the full spectra range of the SPECTRA X light engine. Three of the targets are mRNA transcripts detected by single-molecule fluorescence in situ hybridization (smFISH) using the fluorophores Opal 520, Opal 570 and Opal 650. These are more clearly evident in an enlargement of the segment marked by the orange rectangle.

Technical Details

  • Specimen: Human kidney section
  • Microscope: Nikon Ti2 controlled by NIS Elements software
  • Image acquisition: 20X magnification, 5 x 2 tile scan. Pixel size ~ 0.31μm
  • Light source: SPECTRA X light engine with near-infrared source option
  • Andor Zyla 4.2 PLUS camera

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Light BYTES: February 2018

Bleedthrough or Crosstalk?

The origins of bleedthrough and crosstalk, two common confounding problems in fluorescence microscopy, are quite often confused. The following three 40X images of FITC-labeled actin and Cy3-labeled mitochondria serve to demonstrate the different manifestations of, and remedies for, bleedthrough and crosstalk.

Image 1. SPECTRA X light engine®
Cyan channel excitation, 485/25 filter, Semrock LED-DA/FI/TR/Cy5-4X quad polychroic and emitter

Both bleedthrough and crosstalk are present in this image. Bleedthrough is manifested by the relatively high extracellular gray level in the image (compare with Image 2 where bleedthrough has been eliminated).

Image 2. SPECTRA X light engine
Cyan channel excitation, 475/28 filter, Semrock LED-DA/FI/TR/Cy5-4X quad polychroic and emitter

Bleedthrough has been eliminated by changing the excitation filter to one with a transmission band that does not intersect with those of the quad emitter. The cause of bleedthrough is transmission of excitation light through the emitter to the camera. Crosstalk, manifested by detection of perinuclear mitochondrial fluorescence, is still present in this image (compare with Image 3 where crosstalk has been eliminated to produce an actin-specific image).

Image 3. SPECTRA X light engine
Cyan channel excitation, 475/28 filter, Semrock single band FITC dichroic and emitter

Fundamentally, crosstalk is due to excitation and emission spectra of fluorophores such as FITC and Cy3 not being confined to discrete wavelength ranges. Even though Cy3 fluorescence is optimally excited by green (~550 nm) light, it is also excited by cyan (475 nm) light to a sufficient extent to be readily detectable in Image 2. The crosstalk signal is eliminated by changing the quad band polychroic and emitter for a single band dichroic and emitter to achieve increased blocking on the emission side of the detection system. This solution is a compromise, as it produces an increase in resolution at the expense of speed.


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Light BYTES: January 2018

Built to Last

AURA light engine®, Serial Number 1106, has the distinction of being the first production model 4-color light engine manufactured by Lumencor. In February 2009, it was shipped to the laboratory of Michael W. Davidson at Florida State University, where it provided eight years of maintenance-free service. Michael Davidson, renowned for his Molecular Expressions website and his contributions to the development of fluorescent protein labeling and super-resolution microscopy among other things, passed away in 2015.

With the generous collaboration of Eric Clark (Florida State University), AURA 1106 is now back where it began, at our Beaverton factory. We took the opportunity to measure the power output of AURA 1106 for comparison with the original benchmarks measured in 2009. The results show that nearly nine years after it was manufactured, the performance of AURA 1106 is essentially as good as new.


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Light BYTES: November 2017

NEW SPECTRA III light engine®

Integrated Array of Eight Powerful Solid-State Light Sources
More Power ● More Colors ● More Control

The next generation of solid-state illumination is here. In Lumencor’s SPECTRA III light engine, eight individually addressable solid-state light sources deliver unprecedented performance. Each color band provides on the order of a half a watt of optical power at the end of a liquid light guide. The constituent light sources include LEDs, Lumencor’s proprietary luminescent light pipes and lasers. The outputs of the sources are refined by bandpass filters and merged into a common optical train directed to the light output port on the front panel. The light output port has built-in adapter for connection to microscopes and other bioanalytical instruments through a standard, 3mm diameter liquid light guide, LLG. TTL trigger inputs are provided for all eight sources for applications requiring fast (10 microsecond) switching.

The SPECTRA III light engine delivers substantial increases in output power compared to its SPECTRA® and SPECTRA X® predecessors. The advantages are clear: YFP and Cy7 excitation outputs are increased five-fold; GFP and Cy5 exception outputs are doubled. Not only are the outputs more intense but they are sustained by active stabilization. An onboard feedback loop continuously monitors the light output and maintains constant light output over time. SPECTRA III is not only bright but undeniably reliable, stable and consistent.


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Light BYTES: September 2017

Behind the Scenes: Take a Look at Our Latest Videos

Lumencor light engines® are so responsive and reliable that you may hardly notice them when you’re focused on the intricacies of image acquisition. But, there is a lot going on behind the scenes, as shown in two new videos posted on our website.

Stories of Impact

How can something be central to the enterprise of biotechnology, but overlooked at the same time? Co-founder and executive vice president Claudia Jaffe explains how this conundrum led to the foundation and growth of Lumencor and how Beaverton, Oregon came to be the company’s home.

Stories of Impact


Lumencor Product Portfolio

This presentation by Iain Johnson (Director of Technical Support) begins with a summary of the economic and performance characteristics that differentiate modern solid state light engines from conventional arc discharge lamp light sources. The presentation then moves on to describe how Lumencor’s SOLA®, SPECTRA X®, MIRA®, PEKA® and LIDA light engines® are differentiated from each other in terms of performance and applications. Accessories such as image acquisition software and liquid light guides required for integration of light engines and microscopes are also discussed.

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