New advance in imaging technology, sCMOS, promises to facilitate scientific applications

June 18, 2009--Scientific CMOS (sCMOS), an advanced imaging technology, was the subject of a major announcement at this week's Laser World of Photonics (Munich, Germany, June 15-18). It simultaneously offers low noise, rapid frame rates, wide dynamic range, high QE and resolution, and a large field of view. Representing cooperation among Andor Technology, Fairchild Imaging, and PCO, it has implications for applications including biomedical research, astronomy, and security and defense.

June 18, 2009--Scientific CMOS (sCMOS), an advanced imaging technology, was the subject of a major announcement at this week's Laser World of Photonics (Munich, Germany, June 15-18). The new technology offers a number of useful features that operate simultaneously: extremely low noise, rapid frame rates, wide dynamic range, high quantum efficiency (QE), high resolution, and a large field of view. It represents a cooperative effort among three photonics companies: Andor Technology (Belfast, Northern Ireland), Fairchild Imaging (Milpitas, CA) and PCO (Kelheim, Germany) and has implications for numerous applications including biomedical research, astronomy, and security and defense.

Its low cost (sCMOS is based on next-generation CIS design and fabrication techniques), combined with its promise to out-perform most scientific imaging devices on the market today, make sCMOS attractive as a true scientific grade CMOS image sensor (CIS) technology.

Current scientific imaging technology standards suffer limitations in relation to a strong element of 'mutual exclusivity' between performance parameters, i.e. one can be optimized at the expense of others. sCMOS can be considered unique in its ability to concurrently deliver on many key parameters, while eradicating the performance drawbacks that have traditionally been associated with conventional CMOS imagers.

Performance highlights of the first sCMOS technology sensor include:
+ Sensor format: 5.5 megapixels (2560(h) x 2160(v))
+ Read noise: < 2 e- rms @ 30 frames/s; < 3 e- rms @ 100 frames/s
+ Maximum frame rate: 100 frames/s
+ Pixel size: 6.5 mm
+ Dynamic range: > 16,000:1 (@ 30 frames/s)
+ QEmax.: 60%
+ Read out modes: Rolling and Global shutter (user selectable)

Each of the partners plans products based on the technology for various uses. Key applications for this new technology, already identified by Andor Technology, Fairchild Imaging and PCO include:
+ Live cell microscopy
+ Particle Imaging Velocimetry (PIV)
+ Single Molecule Detection
+ Super resolution microscopy
+ Lucky astronomy/imaging
+ Adaptive optics
+ Solar astronomy
+ Luminescence
+ Fluorescence Spectroscopy
+ Bio- and Chemo-Luminescence
+ Genome sequencing (2nd and 3rd generation)
+ High content screening
+ Biochip reading
+ Photovoltaic inspection
+ X-ray tomography
+ Machine vision
+ TV/Broadcasting
+ Spectral (hyperspectral) imaging
+ Total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy
+ Spinning disk confocal microscopy
+ Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)
+ Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP)
+ Laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS)

"This announcement is a great moment for all three companies, who have come together in a true spirit of commitment to reach a shared goal," said Fairchild Imaging's Colin Earle.

"We have reached a 'leap forward' point, where we can confidently claim that the next significant wave of advancement in high-performance scientific imaging capability has come from the CIS technology stable" added Dr. Colin Coates, Andor Technology.

Dr. Gerhard Holst, PCO, said "Scientific CMOS (sCMOS) technology stands to gain widespread recognition across a broad gamut of demanding imaging applications, carrying an advanced set of performance features that renders it entirely suitable to high fidelity, quantitative scientific measurement."

The results of the partners' pioneering work, pooled resources and shared expertise are described in a downloadable whitepaper and other descriptive materials available at www.scmos.com.

Posted by Barbara G. Goode, barbarag@pennwell.com, for Laser Focus World.

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