The Opticon™ real-time PCR detector employs an array of 96 blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to excite fluorescent dyes. LEDs provide a long-lived, maintenance-free excitation source for years of uninterrupted performance. Emitted fluorescence is then detected by a photomultiplier tube (PMT) that not only detects, but also amplifies the fluorescence signal. A built-in bandpass-filter detection system separates the specific signal from the background, thereby increasing the signal-to-noise ratio. This detection strategy delivers exceptional sensitivity, resulting in the ability to detect as little as one initial template copy, and to accurately quantify initial template over a broad dynamic range. This reduces the need for time-consuming dilutions, even with samples of unknown or widely varying concentration. The Opticon detector's sensitivity also allows a reduction in the consumption of costly reagents without sacrificing data quality.