Absolute spectroscopic determination of cross-membrane potential

Benjamin Ehrenberg, Leslie M. Loew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Spectroscopic determination of the cross-membrane electric potential has been used for more than 20 years. This method, which usually employs absorption or fluorescence measurements, allows for a rapid and noninvasive study of the electrical properties of the membranes of cells and liposomes. However, the usual fluorescence techniques preferably allow monitoring changes in the potential on triggerable or excitable membranes, and not the absolute value of the potential. They also do not provide means for measuring the potential on single cells. This paper reviews three methods that solve these issues. Nernstian dyes which partition between intra-and extracompartmental volumes enable a fluorescence microscopic determination of a single cell and even a single organelle. Dual-wavelength ratiometric recording from membrane-staining dyes also provides means for measuring the field on a single cell. Resonance Raman probes provide a spectroscopic method with a natural internal standard for the absolute measurement of membrane potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-269
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Fluorescence
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1993


  • Membrane potential
  • Nernst potential
  • resonance Raman
  • surface potential


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