Light sources: xenon flash lamps

December 30, 2011

Microplate readers require a light source to provide the incident of light directed at the sample.

Image of Dr EJ Dell
Dr EJ Dell
PhD, Sales Manager Northwest

The first lamps used in microplate readers were halogen, tungsten, and deuterium lamps. All of these had to be used in some combination to cover most of the UV to far red spectrum.


BMG LABTECH uses high performance xenon flash lamps in our microplate readers as high energy xenon flash lamps, in contrast, provide a single light source with more energy over a broader spectral range.  Thus microplate readers that use xenon flash lamps allow for a larger range of assays at lower concentrations. In addition, since it is a flash lamp and not a continuous wave lamp that can readily burn out, it is has a much longer lifetime.

What is the expected lifetime of a Xenon Flash Lamp?


High performance xenon flash lamps are used in all BMG LABTECH microplate readers.


Xenon flash lamps provide substantial intensity over a broad wavelength range of light. This allows all types of biological, light-based assays to be measured on a BMG LABTECH microplate reader while using one light source.


Since xenon lamps are ‘flash’ lamps and not continuous wave lamps, the lifetime of the lamp is much greater when compared to other lamps such as Halogen. Xenon flash lamps have a lifetime of hundreds of thousands of flashes, which translates into years of use, before there is any noticeable decline in functionality.


An easy way to determine if your xenon flash lamp is declining in intensity is to look at an experiment that has been repeated over several years in your laboratory. If you notice that the gain setting (under the Protocol Information tab in a MARS test run) has increased significantly with time when using the same concentration, then the intensity of the lamp could be decreasing. Please contact your local BMG LABTECH representative and have a preventative maintenance visit scheduled.