skip to main content


Title: What is the best method to fit time-resolved data? A comparison of the residual minimization and the maximum likelihood techniques as applied to experimental time-correlated, single-photon counting data

The need for measuring fluorescence lifetimes of species in subdiffraction-limited volumes in, for example, stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy, entails the dual challenge of probing a small number of fluorophores and fitting the concomitant sparse data set to the appropriate excited-state decay function. This need has stimulated a further investigation into the relative merits of two fitting techniques commonly referred to as “residual minimization” (RM) and “maximum likelihood” (ML). Fluorescence decays of the well-characterized standard, rose bengal in methanol at room temperature (530 ± 10 ps), were acquired in a set of five experiments in which the total number of “photon counts” was approximately 20, 200, 1000, 3000, and 6000 and there were about 2–200 counts at the maxima of the respective decays. Each set of experiments was repeated 50 times to generate the appropriate statistics. Each of the 250 data sets was analyzed by ML and two different RM methods (differing in the weighting of residuals) using in-house routines and compared with a frequently used commercial RM routine. Convolution with a real instrument response function was always included in the fitting. While RM using Pearson’s weighting of residuals can recover the correct mean result with a total number ofmore » counts of 1000 or more, ML distinguishes itself by yielding, in all cases, the same mean lifetime within 2% of the accepted value. For 200 total counts and greater, ML always provides a standard deviation of <10% of the mean lifetime, and even at 20 total counts there is only 20% error in the mean lifetime. Here, the robustness of ML advocates its use for sparse data sets such as those acquired in some subdiffraction-limited microscopies, such as STED, and, more importantly, provides greater motivation for exploiting the time-resolved capacities of this technique to acquire and analyze fluorescence lifetime data.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [1]
  1. Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA (United States); Ames Lab., Ames, IA (United States)
  2. Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1520-6106
Grant/Contract Number:
CCF-1117125; W-7405-430 ENG-82; AC02-07CH11358
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Physical Chemistry. B, Condensed Matter, Materials, Surfaces, Interfaces and Biophysical Chemistry
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 120; Journal Issue: 9; Journal ID: ISSN 1520-6106
American Chemical Society
Research Org:
Ames Laboratory (AMES), Ames, IA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier: