HALCYONE is a femtosecond fluorescence spectrometer designed to work with an amplified femtosecond laser or a femtosecond oscillator. A complete turnkey system, HALCYONE comprises an enclosed optical bench containing all necessary optical and optomechanical components and a 19” rack containing all required electronics. The optical bench is connected to the rack by a shielded umbilical cord. This architecture allows keeping all regularly accessed parts of the system within reach, while protecting and consolidating all auxiliary components in a steel rack. Additionally, such a two-unit design facilitates quick and easy installation and relocation. An included laptop PC contains the necessary data acquisition software. The preconfigured routing optics kits offered with HALCYONE allow for easy accommodation of various excitation sources, such as harmonics generators and OPAs. Top quality hardware components from Hamamatsu, JY Horiba, ThorLabs, Newport, CVI and other industry leaders ensure high reliability and longevity of HALCYONE and all our other spectrometers. HALCYONE comes with advanced data analysis software, SURFACE XPLORER, capable of various types of data processing including Global Analysis. With its broad spectral coverage and a long time window, HALCYONE will produce superb spectral and kinetic data needed for your investigations of photoexcitation events with ultrafast time resolution.

HALCYONE is available with two detector options, PMT and CCD. When initially purchased with one detector, HALCYONE can be later upgraded with the other detector option to extend the capabilities of the instrument.


  • 2-unit design with the optical bench isolated from the electronics and detectors.
  • Advanced user-friendly LabVIEW based software for instrument control and data acquisition.
  • Broad probe spectral range.
  • 8 ns time window. We achieve it using a low profile direct-drive ultra-high speed optical delay line. We use custom designed mounts for the delay line optics to increase the beam alignment reproducibility and the overall reliability. This delay line features high resolution as well as very high speed. Scanning at high speeds is very important because it allows for pseudo-random stepping without a significant increase in the experiment time. This type of stepping is very useful for minimizing the effects of laser instability and sample degradation. The delay line is integrated inside the HALCYONE optical bench. This keeps the delay line optics protected from accidental bumping and misalignment. To ensure perfect alignment of the delay line we use a beam profiler for computer assisted control.
  • Time window extendable to milliseconds with the TCSPC add-on.
  • Fiber coupled detectors are external to the main housing.
  • Optional computer controlled filter wheel for varying pump energy, etc.
  • Magnetically stirred sample holder. Easily interchangeable with optional XY rastering sample holder or flow cell.
  • All electronics, including spectrometers, are enclosed in a separate electronics rack connected to the main HALCYONE unit by a protected umbilical cable.Standard option for fluorescence anisotropy measurements.


HALCYONE features versatile and user-friendly LabVIEW based software for instrument control and data acquisition. The software allows for experiment automation, such as preset optical delay step sizes, averaging time for each transient spectrum, time window. Alternatively user can adjust the above parameters during the data collection process. Random delay line stepping is available for the above regimes.

  • Supports a PMT detector with a computer-controlled monochromator.
  • Supports a CCD detector with a high throughput spectrograph.
  • Takes into account the pump and fluorescence wavelengths and automatically adjusts the computer controlled non-linear crystal’s angle.
  • Supports computer controlled translating sample holder.
  • Support pump beam shutter for increased automation.
  • Supports motorized filter wheel for automated pump intensity control.
  • Saves every individual kinetic scan, so if experiment is aborted (due to laser fluctuations, power outages, etc.), all previous scans are not lost.
  • Two levels of user access – basic (default, most commonly used settings), advanced (allows to change DAQ parameters, such as continuum stability thresholds, digitizer dynamic range, etc.).
  • API (Application Programming Interface) for HALCYONE is provided for further experiment customization and integration with external applications. For example, studying temperature dependence on the kinetics with a computer controlled cryostat, etc. can be easily automated through the API. Another example is integration of a computer controlled ND filter wheel or an OPA to perform multiple kinetic scans at different excitation energies or wavelengths.
  • Data format. The HALCYONE software can produce a 2-D (Intensity-Time) or 3-D (Wavelength-Intensity-Time) data matrix in a form of a .ufs file , which can be easily exported into ASCII with Surface Xplorer.

Detector Options

  • Broadband option (CCD). In the broadband variant, HALCYONE is capable of simultaneously measuring a full fluorescence spectrum for each time delay. This is achieved by a using a cooled CCD detector coupled to a high throughput custom designed spectrograph. While the CCD itself can detect a fluorescence signal over a very broad range, the non-linear crystal has a rather limited spectral bandwidth at each phase matching angle. Therefore in order to measure a full fluorescence spectrum one needs to rotate the non-linear crystal over a range of angles corresponding to the spectral window of interest. This is achieved by putting the non-linear crystal on a computer controlled rotation stage. The crystal angles are factory calibrated, so a user does not need to worry about determining a correct crystal angle. Based on the spectral region of interest, the HALCYONE software automatically calculates the crystal angle scanning range. Simultaneously the crystal rotation speed is calculated based on the CCD integration time and the angular range. All these operations are performed “under the hood”, so the only parameter a user needs to specify is the fluorescence spectral range.
  • Single wavelength option (PMT). This is a more affordable solution where HALCYONE can measure a single wavelength fluorescence signal at a particular time delay. The fluorescence signal can be measured as a function of time or wavelength by scanning an optical delay line or a computer controlled monochromator, respectively. To maximize the sensitivity at each fluorescence wavelength, the phase matching angle of a non-linear crystal angle is automatically adjusted by a computer controlled rotation stage. The crystal angles are factory calibrated, so a user does not need to worry about determining a correct crystal angle.

Time-Correlated Single Photon Counting

HALCYONE can be equipped with a TCSPC add-on for extending its time window. The add-on consists a fiber coupled monochromator with a fast single photon counting detector and the necessary electronics. It seamlessly integrates with the optical bench and utilizes the same optical set-up used for fluorescence upconversion.


  • Low profile direct-drive ultra-high speed optical delay line integrated in the spectrometer housing.
    • Time window: 8 ns
    • Resolution: 14 fs
    • Minimum step size: 2.8 fs
    • Max. speed: >10 ns/s
    • Acceleration: > 260 ns/s^2
  • Temporal Resolution. The instrument response function of HALCYONE is determined by several factors, such as the laser pulse duration, non-linear crystal length, sample cuvette thickness. A typical IRF of HALCYONE is ≤250 fs.
  • Detectors
    • Thermoelectrically cooled CCD camera (1024×255 pixels) with fiber coupled spectrograph. Spectral range (exact luminescence detection range depends on the excitation and gate wavelengths)
      • VIS: 400-800 nm (standard)
      • UV: 270-400 nm
      • NIR: 800-1600 nm
    • Single photon counting PMT with a fiber coupled monochromator. Spectral range (exact luminescence detection range depends on the excitation and gate wavelengths)
      • VIS: 400-800 nm (standard)
      • UV: 270-400 nm (with amplified femtosecond lasers only)
      • NIR: 800-1600 nm (with amplified femtosecond lasers only)
  • TCSPC add-on
    • Temporal resolution: 50 ps
    • Spectral range: 270-1600 nm (depending on the configuration)
  • Dimensions
    • Optical bench:      W24” x L36” x H10” (W610 x L915 x H250 mm)
    • Electronics rack:   W21” x L24” x H27” (W534 x L610 x H686 mm)


  • Photophysics
  • Photochemistry
  • Photobiology
  • Cell biology
  • Materials science
  • Nano-science
  • Transient spectrometry, and many more areas

Typical examples of research topics involve studies of such processes as:

  • Electronic deactivation
  • Solvation dynamics
  • Energy transfer
  • Intersystem crossing
  • Vibrational relaxation
  • Internal conversion
  • Electron transfer, etc

Selected Publications

Data Examples

For data examples please visit our Apps Lab page.