With our wide ranging expertise in the development of optical measuring systems, our extensive experience in control engineering and our innovative solutions that utilize future oriented communications technology, we are the right partner to help optimize your metrology. As a one stop supplier of measurement and network technology, we have modern development tools and a pool of tested hardware and software modules at our disposal. Our customers benefit from our expertise and are able to efficiently develop solutions of the highest quality.
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QIAGENS’s novel micro fluorescence detector enables synchronous confocal fluorescence measurement, providing sensitivity that is equivalent to a top-of-the-range commercial spectrometer, all housed within a miniscule package. Our detector is suitable for implementation into in-line and on-line applications as well as in hand-held devices for final product evaluation.
QIAGEN’s unique fluorescence detector was developed using an uncompromising approach to both optical performance and implementation, and can be used in a wide range of applications. The detector is available in single- or dual-channel formats (each having separate excitation and emission wavelengths). It uses confocal optics with small measurement windows for the assessment of liquids or solids. The detector is also packed into a solid casing that protects the device from dust and humidity and shields the sensor from electromagnetic radiation. Its lack of moving parts and low operating voltage (5V DC) make it suitable for use in hazardous environments without the need for extensive housing modifications. Whether analysis is required in a reaction vessel, in-line, in transfer, recycling, packaging or shipping, the ESE fluorescence detector can provide information to improve product quality and yield. This in turn helps decrease waste, and all without the need for complicated operational and calibration requirements.
The core technology is a miniaturized, confocal optical beam that has been developed using state of the art simulation tools. The separation of excitation and emission is performed via a complex system of optical filters. Top of the line injection molding guarantees replicable high volume production resulting in an outstanding price/performance ratio.
Closed loop controlled excitation
The newest LED-technology replaces the traditional lasers and lamps used in lab-based fluorescence excitation and this is possible due to the enormous light power offered by today‘s LEDs. While LED-power is temperature dependent, this is compensated for by that use of an additional detector that regulates the power to an adjustable value. As a result, the detector provides a stable and long-term measurement signal.
Premium technology sensitivity and low-noise
The photodiode and a low noise analog lamp are integrated within the detector. This enables short signal paths and protection from electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) problems. The detector delivers a low noise (0-2.5V) output. The encapsulated module is quite simple to handle and can easily be integrated into OEM-systems just by plugging it into a printed circuit board (PCB).
Intelligent, processor-controlled electronics
Along with the basic measurement electronics, the detector also consists of a temperature sensor and a memory chip. This chip stores specific sensor data such as calibration values, serial number, scaling etc. Data communication is conducted via serial interface (RS232 or RS485). A superordinate system is able to read out data and can also be used for data processing. The detectors are therefore interchangeable.
The fluorescence phenomenon has been observed for thousands of years and was mentioned in Chinese books as far back as 1500 BC.
Several hundred years ago, Johann W. von Goethe described fluorescent light phenomenon in his Theory of Colors. He asked his readers to: “… dip a fresh piece of horse chestnut bark into a glass of water; the bark will immediately turn sky-blue. “ However, only today do we truly understand this phenomenon and have the ability to control and make use of its processes.
Fluorescence is a special form of luminescence, an optical phenomenon in cold bodies, in which a molecule absorbs a high-energy photon, and reemits this light at a lower-energy or longer-wavelength. The term fluorescence is named after the mineral calcium fluoride, which has been seen to exhibit this phenomenon.
The energy difference between the absorbed and emitted photons is released as molecular vibrations (heat). Usually the absorbed photon is in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum, and the emitted light (luminescence) is in the visible range, but this depends on the absorption curve and Stokes Shift of the particular fluorophore. The Stokes shift, so named after the Irish physicist George G. Stokes, is the difference (usually in frequency units) between the spectral positions of the band maxima (or the band origin) of the absorption and luminescence arising from the same electronic transition.
Generally, the luminescence that occurs at longer wavelengths than the absorption is stronger than those at shorter wavelength. The latter may be called an anti-Stokes shift. Each fluorescent material has its own unique value, basically a fingerprint that allows the material to be clearly identified.
Fluorescence has proven to be a versatile tool for myriads of applications. This powerful technique can be used to study molecular interactions in analytical chemistry, biochemistry, cell biology, physiology, nephrology, cardiology, photochemistry, and environmental science as well as in other areas. Fluorescence detection has three major advantages over other light-based investigation methods: high sensitivity, high speed, and safety. Safety here refers to the fact that samples are not affected or destroyed in the process and no hazardous byproducts are generated.
New developments in instrumentation, software, probes, and applications have resulted in a heightened popularity for a technique that was first observed over 150 years ago. There are many natural and synthetic compounds that exhibit fluorescence, and they have a number of different diagnostic, medical or biochemical applications.
For example, a fluorescent chemical substance or fluorophore can be attached to large biological molecule that is of interest and fluorescence can then be used to identify if the molecule of interest is present. This enables very specific analyses and, more importantly, quantitative results as the signal strength will depend on the number of fluorophores in the sample. Applications include DNA-sequencing, biochips, tumor and immunological marker detection.
Fluorescence is also used in many industrial applications, for example, to identify substances, surface coatings and final products. Applications include proof of authenticity (currency notes, expensive consumer products), inspection of coatings and tagging of fuel or oil. In addition, organic material when excited with UV-Light, will often display a strong auto-fluorescence and this attribute has a wide variety of applications without the need to use additional fluorescence markers. One such example would be the measurement of contamination (e.g. oil in water) and the detection of oil and fat residues on surfaces in hygiene testing.
Due to the fact that today‘s measurement technology is complex, expensive and only practical in labs, it has not always been possible to use fluorescence techniques for many applications. Lab-based measurement systems, while highly sensitive, are usually bulky and expensive.
The measurement of fluorescence demands complex, highly sensitive systems because the emission energy, the energy of the sample‘s fluorescence light, is nearly a million times smaller than the energy of the excitation. The fact that the emission has only a slightly different wavelength than the excitation (20-30 nm) is one of the challenges of this technique. In addition, lab-based measurement systems use a laser or high-pressure lamp (for variable wavelengths) to excite the sample and highly sensitive detectors, such as photomultipliers or ccd-detectors, to measure the emitted energy. The optical separation of excitation and emission is usually confducted at a measurement angle of 90°. This measurement principle is known as Off-Axis-Measurement and requires a very precise positioning of the excitation and emission beam on the sample. Therefore lab systems are very powerful and able to detect arbitrary fluorescent objects. However, these systems are very large, heavy, consume high amounts of energy and cannot be used under difficult environmental conditions due to the fact that temperature-differences, humidity or dirt particles have an enormous effect on the measured results. The operation of these systems normally requires trained personnel, which incurs additional costs. Thus the use of these systems is still limited to labs and research institutions.
QIAGEN has developed a small, easy to use fluorescence measurement system, which is extremely sensitive, robust and affordable! With our consistent use of modern microsystems technology, state of the art LED- and filter technology, as well as highly integrated embedded systems, we were able to develop a fluorescence detector that can be used for mobile measurement systems or integrated into systems for online process monitoring (e.g. in production lines or labs).
The fluorescence detector‘s distinguishing features are its size, ease of use and outstanding price to performance ratio. In addition, the sensitivity of the detector is comparable with expensive lab systems.
QIAGEN’s ESElog and Fluo Sens measurement systems work with impinging light based on a confocal measurement principle. In contrast to the off-axis principle, the excitation and emission beam in confocal systems have the same, parallel course. In the detector, the measurement signal is extracted by a precise system of beam splitters and filters. This can be used on arbitrary surfaces as well as in liquids.
One of the major advantages of the confocal principle compared with the off-axis principle used by lab-based systems is the much higher flexibility regarding detector and sample positioning. As seen in the comparison graph below, the accurate positioning of the sample is highly critical when using the off-axis principle whereas with the confocal principle positioning of the sample is not critical and comparable results can be easily obtained.
QIAGEN Lake Constance, a subsidiary of QIAGEN N.V., is a center of excellence for optical detection and point-of-need instrumentation. We focus on the development and production of portable instruments for rapid testing for many different applications, from food and feed safety to veterinary analysis, and countless others.
QIAGEN N.V., a Netherlands-based holding company, serves more than 500,000 customers around the globe, all seeking insights from the building blocks of life – DNA, RNA and proteins. We deliver Sample to Insight solutions for molecular testing, driving QIAGEN’s customers from start to finish to help them unlock new insights.