Compact and robust deep learning architecture for fluorescence lifetime imaging and FPGA implementation

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This paper reports a bespoke adder-based deep learning network for time-domain fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM). By leveraging the l1-norm extraction method, we propose a 1-D Fluorescence Lifetime AdderNet (FLAN) without multiplication-based convolutions to reduce the computational complexity. Further, we compressed fluorescence decays in temporal dimension using a log-scale merging technique to discard redundant temporal information derived as log-scaling FLAN (FLAN+LS). FLAN+LS achieves 0.11 and 0.23 compression ratios compared with FLAN and a conventional 1-D convolutional neural network (1-D CNN) while maintaining high accuracy in retrieving lifetimes. We extensively evaluated FLAN and FLAN+LS using synthetic and real data. A traditional fitting method and other non-fitting, high-accuracy algorithms were compared with our networks for synthetic data. Our networks attained a minor reconstruction error in different photon-count scenarios. For real data, we used fluorescent beads' data acquired by a confocal microscope to validate the effectiveness of real fluorophores, and our networks can differentiate beads with different lifetimes. Additionally, we implemented the network architecture on a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) with a post-quantization technique to shorten the bit-width, thereby improving computing efficiency. FLAN+LS on hardware achieves the highest computing efficiency compared to 1-D CNN and FLAN. We also discussed the applicability of our network and hardware architecture for other time-resolved biomedical applications using photon-efficient, time-resolved sensors
Original languageEnglish
Article number025002
Number of pages16
JournalMethods and Applications in Fluorescence
Issue number2
Early online date2 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2023


  • computational imaging
  • time-resolved biomedical imaging
  • deep learning
  • reconfigurable hardware
  • fluorescence lifetime


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