Brief Overview of Fluorescence

Section Overview:

The phenomenon of fluorescence was known by the middle of the nineteenth century. British scientist Sir George G. Stokes first made the observation that the mineral fluorspar exhibits fluorescence when illuminated with ultraviolet light, and he coined the word "fluorescence". Stokes observed that the fluorescing light has longer wavelengths than the excitation light, a phenomenon that has become to be known as the Stokes shift. Fluorescence microscopy is an excellent method of studying material that can be made to fluoresce, either in its natural form (termed primary or autofluorescence) or when treated with chemicals capable of fluorescing (known as secondary fluorescence). The fluorescence microscope was devised in the early part of the twentieth century by August Köhler, Carl Reichert, and Heinrich Lehmann, among others. However, the potential of this instrument was not realized for several decades, and fluorescence microscopy is now an important (and perhaps indispensable) tool in cellular biology.

Review Articles

Interactive Tutorials

Selected Literature References

Fluorescence Reference Listing

The reference materials listed below were utilized in the construction of the introductory fluorescence section in the Molecular Expressions Microscopy Primer.

Contributing Authors

Mortimer Abramowitz - Olympus America, Inc., Two Corporate Center Drive., Melville, New York, 11747.

Ian D. Johnson, Matthew J. Parry-Hill, Brian O. Flynn, and Michael W. Davidson - National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, 1800 East Paul Dirac Dr., The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 32310.