**The Measurement Volume**

The measurement volume is a convolution of illumination (excitation) and detection geometries, which result from the optical elements involved. The resulting volume is described mathematically by the point spread function (or PSF), it is essentially the image of a point source. The PSF is often described as an ellipsoid (with unsharp boundaries) of few hundred nanometers in focus diameter, and almost one micrometer along the optical axis. The shape varies significantly (and has a large impact on the resulting FCS curves) depending on the quality of the optical elements (it is crucial to avoid astigmatism and to check the real shape of the PSF on the instrument). In the case of confocal microscopy, and for small pinholes (around one Airy unit), the PSF is well approximated by Gaussians:

where is the peak intensity, r and z are radial and axial position, and and are the radial and axial radii, and . This Gaussian form is assumed in deriving the functional form of the autocorrelation.

Typically is 200–300 nm, and is **2–6** times larger. One common way of calibrating the measurement volume parameters is to perform FCS on a species with known diffusion coefficient and concentration (see below). Diffusion coefficients for common fluorophores in water are given in a later section.

The Gaussian approximation works to varying degrees depending on the optical details, and corrections can sometimes be applied to offset the errors in approximation.

Read more about this topic: Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy

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“I dare say I am compelled, unconsciously compelled, now to write *volume* after *volume*, as in past years I was compelled to go to sea, voyage after voyage. Leaves must follow upon each other as leagues used to follow in the days gone by, on and on to the appointed end, which, being Truth itself, is One—one for all men and for all occupations.”

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