A simple method is proposed for modulating the excitation light used for multi-color fluorescence detection in a single capillary electrophoresis (CE) channel. In the proposed approach, a low-cost commercial liquid crystal device (LCD) projector with digitally-modulated LCD switches is used to provide the illumination light source and the fluorescence emitted from the CE chip is synchronously detected using an ultraviolet-visible-near infrared (UV-vis-NIR) spectrometer. The modulated light source enables the detection of multiple fluorescence signals within a single CE channel without the need of mechanically switching optical components. In order to enhance the sensing performance of the proposed system, two short-pass filters and one band-pass filter are inserted into the LCD projector to modify the wavelength spectra for fluorescence excitation. With this simple approach, the signal-to-noise (SN) ratio of the fluorescence detection signals is greatly improved by a factor of approximately 22 when detecting Atto647N fluorescent dye. The feasibility of the proposed multi-color CE detection approach is demonstrated by detecting two different samples including a mixed sample comprising FITC, Rhodamine B and Atto647N fluorescent dyes and a bio-sample composed of two ssDNAs labeled with FITC and Cy3, respectively. Results confirm that the digitally-modulated excitation system proposed in this study has significant potential for the parallel analysis of fluorescently-labeled bio-samples using a multi-color detection scheme.
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