Changes in absorption, fluorescence, dichroism, and Birefringence in stained giant axons: : optical measurement of membrane potential. Academic Article uri icon


  • The absorption, fluorescence, dichroism, and birefringence of stained squid axons were measured during action potentials and voltage clamp steps in an effort to find large optical signals that could be used to monitor membrane potential. Changes in all four optical properties were found that were linearly related to membrane potential and, with several new dyes, the signal-to-noise ratios were larger than any obtained previously. The problem of photodynamic damage was greatly diminished; with a merocyaninerhodanine dye, the photodynamic damage associated with intense light and the presence of oxygen was negligible. The absorption change obtained with this dye was relatively large; it could be measured with a signal-to-noise ratio of 100:1 during a single action potential.

publication date

  • May 6, 1977