Alexa Fluor

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The Alexa Fluor family of fluorescent dyes is produced by Molecular Probes, a subsidiary of Invitrogen. Alexa Fluor dyes are typically used as cell and tissue labels in fluorescence microscopy and cell biology.

The excitation and emission spectra of the Alexa Fluor series cover the visible spectrum and extend into the infrared. The individual members of the family are numbered according roughly to their excitation maxima (in nm).

Alexa Fluor dyes are synthesized through sulfonation of coumarin, rhodamine, xanthene (such as fluorescein), and cyanine dyes. Sulfonation makes Alexa Fluor dyes negatively charged and hydrophilic. Alexa Fluor dyes are generally more stable, brighter, and less pH-sensitive than common dyes (e.g. fluorescein, rhodamine) of comparable excitation and emission, However, they are also more expensive. They are patented by Invitrogen (which acquired the company that developed the Alexa dyes, Molecular Probes).


The Alexa Fluor dyes were named after Alex Haugland, son of the founders of Molecular Probes, Richard and Rosaria Haugland. The Marina Blue dye was named after their daughter, Marina.

Comparison with other dyes

While extinction coefficients are known (see the table above), quantum yields and life times are not. Comparisons with other dyes should be considered depending on the conditions...
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