Correlation Techniques

Fluorescence Correlation – FCS

Fluorescence Cross Correlation – FCCS

Full Correlation Down to Picoseconds

Antibunching Experiments by TCSPC

Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy: Illuminating the Secrets of Molecular Interactions


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What does FCS/FCCS mean?

Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS) and Fluorescence Cross Correlation Spectroscopy (FCCS) are powerful techniques used in the field of biophysics to study the dynamics and interactions of fluorescently labeled molecules at the single molecule level. They utilize the fluorescence properties of molecules to gain insights into their behavior in solution. By detecting the fluorescence photons emitted by individual molecules, FCS provides valuable information about diffusion, concentration, and molecular interactions.


What is FCS Used For?

FCS has a wide range of applications in various fields, including biochemistry, cell biology, and pharmacology. One of its primary uses is in the study of protein-protein interactions. By labeling proteins of interest with fluorescent probes and measuring their interactions, FCS enables researchers to understand the binding kinetics, stoichiometry, and affinities between different protein partners. This information is crucial for unraveling biological pathways and developing therapeutic interventions.

FCS is also employed in the field of single molecule detection. By studying the fluorescence of individual molecules, researchers can explore their dynamics, conformational changes, and interactions with other molecules. This has profound implications for understanding fundamental biological processes such as enzyme kinetics, DNA-protein interactions, and protein folding.


What kind of insights can be gained from FCS?

FCS provides several key insights into the behavior of molecules. By analyzing the diffusion of fluorescently labeled molecules, researchers can determine their diffusion coefficients, which provide information about their size, shape, and interactions with the surrounding environment. This information is vital for understanding the dynamics of molecules in solution.

Moreover, FCS allows for the determination of molecular concentrations. By analyzing the fluctuations in the fluorescence signal, researchers can calculate the number of molecules present in the observation volume, providing insights into the stoichiometry of molecular interactions and binding equilibria.

Additionally, FCS can detect molecular interactions and measure their kinetics. By analyzing the autocorrelation function, which represents the temporal fluctuations in fluorescence intensity, researchers can extract information about the association and dissociation rates of molecules. This information sheds light on the strength and specificity of molecular interactions.


Typical FCS Setup:

A typical FCS setup involves a microscope, equipped with sensitive detectors for detecting the fluorescence photons emitted by the labeled molecules. The sample containing the fluorescently labeled molecules is illuminated with a laser, and the emitted fluorescence is collected and directed to the detectors. The laser can be pulsed or CW. 

The detectors, most suitable are hybrid PMTs, convert the detected photons into electrical signals. These signals are then analyzed to generate the autocorrelation function, which provides insights into the dynamics and interactions of the labeled molecules.


Measurement Volume and Autocorrelation Function:

The measurement volume in FCS refers to the small three-dimensional region where the fluorescence emission is observed. It is determined by factors such as the laser focus, the optical properties of the sample, and the numerical aperture of the microscope objective. The size of the measurement volume affects the sensitivity and resolution of the FCS measurement.

The autocorrelation function is a mathematical representation of the temporal fluctuations in the fluorescence intensity. It is generated by correlating the fluorescence signal at different time intervals. The autocorrelation function provides information about the diffusion properties, concentration, and interactions of the fluorescent molecules within the measurement volume.


Variations of FCS:

FCS has evolved into various specialized techniques, broadening its scope and providing additional advantages in different research areas. One such variation is Fluorescence Correlation Microscopy (FCM), which combines FCS with fluorescence microscopy. FCM enables the spatial mapping of molecular dynamics and interactions within biological samples, allowing for high-resolution imaging of molecular processes.

FCS can also be combined with other techniques, such as FCS chemistry, which incorporates chemical reactions into the FCS measurement. This allows for the study of dynamic processes, such as enzyme kinetics or DNA hybridization, by monitoring the changes in fluorescence intensity over time.


In conclusion, Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS) is a versatile technique that allows researchers to delve into the dynamics and interactions of fluorescently labeled molecules. With applications ranging from protein-protein interactions to single molecule detection, FCS provides valuable insights into fundamental biological processes. By analyzing the diffusion, concentration, and molecular interactions within the measurement volume, FCS has become an indispensable tool for understanding the intricate world of molecular dynamics. The advancements in variations like FCS microscopy and FCS chemistry further enhance the scope and advantages of FCS, paving the way for groundbreaking discoveries at the interface of physics, chemistry, and biology.

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