Phosphor Imaging

What is phosphor imaging and what are the benefits?

Phosphor imaging is a method to detect radioactive material in applications such as Northern, Southern, or Western blotting, or in radiolabeled tissue sections. It has many benefits over autoradiography to detect radio labels using x-ray film, including increased sensitivity, shorter exposure times, and a greater dynamic range than is possible with film.

The difference between phosphor imaging and other types of imaging

While fluorescent and chemiluminescent imaging techniques and their detectors are becoming more sensitive and selective, photostimulated luminescence from phosphor storage plates remains a key application for many researchers, especially for applications such as electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA), enzyme assays, and in-vivo imaging.

How phosphor imaging works

In phosphor imaging, a storage phosphor screen captures the energy from the radioactive material. The storage screen contains a thin layer of crystals that absorb and store energy emitted by radioactive material. The storage screen is exposed to a radioactive sample, such as a blot or tissue section.

After the exposure, the screen is imaged by scanning with a laser (Figure 1). The laser converts the stored energy to visible light which can be captured using a digital imaging system. The emitted light is proportional to the amount of radioactivity present in the original sample, making phosphor imaging excellent for quantitative comparisons. The figures below demonstrate the linearity and wide dynamic range possible with phosphor imaging.

American Radiolabel Chemicals Carbon-14 standard exposed to Storage Phosphor Screen for three hours, then imaged with the Azure Sapphire Biomolecular Imager
Figure 1. American Radiolabel Chemicals Carbon-14 standard exposed to Storage Phosphor Screen for three hours, then imaged with the Azure Sapphire Biomolecular Imager

The phosphor screen can be erased by exposure to white light and re-used.

Sample: C autoradiographic standard; Imaging; Phosphor; LOD: 0.036 µCi/g; DR: 5.4 orders of magnitude; Linearity: R²=0.99
Sample: C autoradiographic standard; Imaging: Phosphor; LOD: 0.036 µCi/g; DR: 5.4 orders of magnitude; Linearity: R²=0.99

The best imaging system for phosphor imaging

The Azure Sapphire Biomolecular Imager includes phosphor imaging among its available imaging modalities. Azure also provides an imaging plate eraser to ensure quick, complete erasure of imaging screens to maximize data and image quality.

Traditional phosphor imagers are often single function and require a large footprint. The Azure Sapphire offers the ability to scan storage phosphor screens for filmless autoradiography, with exceptional dynamic range and image quality thanks to the use of laser excitation and photon multiplier tube (PMT) detection. The Sapphire also incorporates exceptional visible fluorescent and near infra-red scanning along with true chemiluminescent and white light imaging making it a true lab workhorse.

Related Products
Azure Sapphire Biomolecular Imager

Scans storage phosphor screens for filmless autoradiography, with exceptional dynamic range and image quality

Azure Sapphire Eraser

Makes erasing storage phosphor screens easy

Additional Resources

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