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Total Lifetime Distribution Analysis for Fluorescence Fingerprinting and Characterization

Volume 49, Number 1 (Jan. 1995) Page 60-66

McGown, Linda B.; Hemmingsen, Sherry L.; Shaver, Jeremy M.; Geng, Lei

A new technique, total lifetime distribution analysis (TLDA), is described for rapid, sensitive, and accurate lifetime characterization of complex samples. Multiharmonic Fourier transform technology in a commercial, frequency-domain fluorescence lifetime instrument allows rapid acquisition of TLDA data. High sensitivity derives from the use of the entire fluorescence emission from the sample in the lifetime measurement. The maximum entropy method (MEM) provides a consistent basis for modeling of the lifetime data for accurate recovery of the total lifetime distribution of the sample. Because MEM is self-modeling, it is not subject to the same sources of bias that influence nonlinear least-squares fits of lifetime data to a priori models. These features make TLDA an effective tool for sample characterization and fingerprinting that is based on the responsiveness of fluorescence lifetime to the chemical composition and dynamic processes that contribute to the uniqueness of the sample. TLDA results are presented for coal liquids and a humic substance. The effect of signal intensity on lifetime recovery is investigated, and comparison is made between MEM and conventional nonlinear least-squares for data analysis.