Commercial cooperation produces "scientific CMOS" imaging advance

JUNE 17, 2009--A whitepaper presented this week at the Laser World of Photonics Conference and Exhibition (Munich, Germany, June 15-18) describes scientific CMOS (sCMOS) technology--based on next-generation image sensor design and fabrication techniques--capable of out-performing most scientific imaging devices on the market today. Unlike previous generations of CMOS and CCD-based sensors, sCMOS is uniquely capable of simultaneously offering extremely low noise, rapid frame rates, wide dynamic range, high quantum efficiency (QE), high resolution, and a large field of view.

The development is the result of pooled resources and shared expertise by scientists from Andor Technology (Northern Ireland), Fairchild Imaging (United States) and PCO (Germany).

"Today's 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."

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, whilst 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)

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
+ Adaptive optics
+ Luminescence
+ Fluorescence spectroscopy
+ Bio- and chemo-luminescence
+ Genome sequencing (2nd and 3rd generation)
+ High content screening
+ Biochip reading
+ 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)

The findings of the white paper are available to the scientific community, to download from

Posted by Barbara G. Goode,, for BioOptics World.

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