EM N2 EMCCD camera

Customizable EMCCD camera

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Overview

Resorting to liquid nitrogen to cool the EMCCD chip, the EM N2 camera line generates the least amount of dark current and significantly less clock-induced charges. In other words, the EM N2 camera provides the highest signal-to-noise ratio for photon-counting imaging applications.

The EM N2 camera supports 3 standard EMCCD detector sizes (128 × 128, 512 × 512 and 1024 × 1024) in addition to custom sizes for specific requirements. The detector is cooled down to -110°C for applications that require extremely low thermal noise, especially during long exposures. A standard C-mount with built-in shutter for dark frame acquisition is  also included. Fast and simple software integration as well as complementary support services are available worldwide.

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Highest SNR

The EM N2 camera generates the least amount of background noise, thanks to both its innovative electronics (CCCP) that minimize clock-induced charges (CIC) and robust packaging, making it the perfect camera for demanding applications in low light imaging. Its highest EM gain allows achieving the lowest effective readout noise and maximum single photon detection probability.

Relative efficiency of a camera having a CIC level of 0.005 electron/pixel/image for various G/σ ratios. G is defined as the gain while σ is the background noise level.

The above figure compares the observation efficiency between an EMCCD photon-counting (PC) and analog (AM) operation, expressed as the ratio of the observing time required to reach a given SNR and the incoming light flux. Since the AM operation is capable of counting more than one photon/pixel/frame, the AM operation frame rate can be lower than that of the PC operation. For these plots, the PC operation is at 10 frames per second while the AM operation is at 1 frame per second. The horizontal dotted line shows a ratio of 1. When a curve is higher than the ratio of 1, the PC operation is more efficient than the AM. A dark signal of 0.001 electron/pixel/second is assumed.

For more information on photon counting efficiency, take a look at our EMCCD tutorial.

Superior image quality

Nüvü Camēras’ Controller for Counting Photons (CCCP) not only suppresses clock-induced charges (CIC) while reading the EMCCD chip, but also maintains excellent charge transfer efficiency despite the sensor’s temperature and EM gain. In fact, CCCP, the EM N2 camera brain, considerably increases overall image quality by guaranteeing little deferred charges and extremely low background noise at high frame rates.

Up to 20MHz for fast acquisition

Binning, selectable and customizable multiple regions of interest (mROI), cropped-sensor mode as well as a variety of pixel rates are available for attaining high frame rates. When combined, these parameters can answer all types of acquisition rates for low light application requirements.

Nüvü Camēras EMCCD detectors are designed and optimized by a high-quality chip manufacturer for a specified readout rate. By pushing the limits of these detectors to achieve acquisition speeds greater than the manufacturer’s recommendations, cameras necessarily generate more clock-induced charges. However, Nüvü Camēras’ CCCP, the patented technology that drives the EMCCD sensor, is proven to produce the minimal CIC levels, resulting in much more efficient high-speed acquisitions.

Customizable options for any application requirements

The EM N2 is a fully customizable EMCCD camera for optimal performance according to an application’s specific needs.

Which sensor?

EMCCD detectors are typically optimized for midband applications that cover the entire visible spectrum, or for low fringing applications, offering more sensitivity in the near-ultraviolet and blue areas of the spectrum. As such, the EM N2 camera line supports all EMCCD sensor formats provided by high quality detector manufacturers, whether they are optimized for midband or low fringing applications. Please contact us to verify the availability of such sensors.

Quantum efficiency for the EM N2

midband detectors are available for all EM N2 models.

low fringing detectors are available for EM N2 512 and 1024 models only.

What cooling temperature?

The EM N2 is a fully customizable EMCCD camera. Its liquid nitrogen cooling system offers a flexible mean to optimize a sensor’s performances: the ability to cool all the way down to -110 °C allows users to attain the desired balance between dark current and charge transfer efficiency (CTE). The very best image quality can therefore be attained via adjustable cooling temperature with any high sensitivity sensor — even those of non-standard or custom size ratios.

Specification sheets

Binning, selectable and customizable multiple regions of interest (mROI), cropped-sensor mode as well as a variety of pixel rates are available for attaining high frame rates. When combined, these parameters can answer all types of acquisition rates for low light application requirements.

Listed below are the standard sizes available for the EM N2 as well as their optimal applications.

A variety of EM N2 camera models are available, including customized detector sizes.

Optimized for highest frame rates EM N2 128 Specsheet
Balanced for optimal frame rates, field of view and minimal noise EM N2 512 Specsheet
Optimized for largest field of view EM N2 1024 Specsheet
Ask us for custom detector sizes Contact our application scientists

Fully integrated services

Software tools

The NüPixel software is designed as a user-friendly tool for intuitive control, acquisition, and analysis of any snapshots and sequences acquired with all Nüvü Camēras products.

For customizable programming, a complementary software development kit (SDK) is included. A variety of drivers for third-party software as well as consulting services are also available.

Support

In addition to intuitive user manuals for independent installation and use of our products, Nüvü Camēras offers international on-site training as well as complete installation consulting services. Our team’s passion is the development of the ultra low light imaging field: as such, we provide a variety of services to efficiently minimize the delay between purchase and future discoveries.

Warranty

Nüvü Camēras is a Canadian company specialized in designing and manufacturing novel EMCCD cameras for fields where the drive for cutting edge instrumentation propels innovation. We improve imaging performance for a number of fields including biomedical research, astronomy, photonics and more. As such, our cameras benefit from extended warranty policies. Basic warranty includes a 2-year warranty on all parts and labor (subject to the terms and conditions expressed in the respective products’ user manuals).

Extended warranty options are also available on demand.

DEMONSTRATION

Darker EMCCD — Less noise

Nüvü Camēras manufactures the darkest EMCCD camera. Its secret? The CCD Controller for Counting Photons, an innovative technology that virtually suppresses clock-induced charges (CIC), and an effective cooling system with outstanding precision that optimizes CIC and dark current, or thermal noise, to their ground level.

The images below illustrate the accumulation of dark current when the shutter is closed. The darker the image, the less noise.

Nüvü Camēras EMCCD technology Other EMCCDs

Acquisition conditions: -85 °C cooling, 10MHz readout speed, EM gain of 5000 for Nüvü Camēras, and 1000 for other EMCCDs.

No pixel leaking — Superior image quality

At high readout speeds, the electron transfer from one potential well to the next may be incomplete, leaving a few charges behind. Consequently, the leftover electrons artificially increase the brightness of certain pixels, thereby diminishing the overall image quality with the addition of arbitrary blurry spots. Nonetheless, Nüvü Camēras’ CCD Controller for Counting Photons preserves charge transfer efficiency on top of decreasing clock-induced charges (CIC), yielding highly superior image quality.

Nüvü Camēras EMCCD technology. Other EMCCDs.

Acquisition conditions: -85 °C cooling, 10MHz readout speed, EM gain of 5000 for Nüvü Camēras, and 1000 for other EMCCDs.

Conventional, EM Linear and Photon Counting

EMCCD cameras offer several modes of acquisition depending on the target’s light intensity. The EM linear mode is optimized for extreme low light imaging, where a few photons per pixel per frame are expected. In cases where the expected intensity is about a single photon per pixel per second or even less, the photon-counting (PC) mode becomes the ideal solution to obtain high quality images. By eliminating the excess noise factor (ENF) and using a statistically significant threshold, pixels are individually analyzed to determine whether or not they truly detected a photon despite various noise sources.

In contrast, the conventional mode of operation is available for situations involving non-limiting quantities of light, in which the EMCCD camera functions in the same manner as a traditional CCD.

As stated in its name, the CCD Controller for Counting Photons (CCCP) was purposely designed for photon-counting imaging; resorting to arbitrary clocks rather than regular square clocks to shift the electrons through the EMCCD, the controller clamps down the generation of clock-induced charges, thus significantly reducing the detector’s total background noise. By doing so, the EMCCD ability to discriminate single-photon events is considerably increased and the camers can effectively operate in photon-counting mode as long as the background noise is low.

Displayed below are images of extremely dim light sources — low concentration bioluminescent samples — and illustrate de power of photon-couting imaging in such conditions. All figures are a courtesy of the Université de Sherbrooke Hospital Centre.

Single 30 seconds frame acquisition in conventional (CCD) mode. No details are visible where we should have seen several bioluminescent ATP samples.

Applying electron multiplication to suppress the readout noise reveals the bioluminescent ATP samples in 5 seconds. As such, all six ATP concentrations are detectable with SNR values varying from 1.9 to 14.1 (or, equivalently, 2.8 dB to 11.5 dB).

Photon counting mode with an EMCCD increases the contrast of all ATP samples by suppressing the excess noise factor (ENF), thus allowing a strong improvement in image quality. The SNR increases from 6.6 to 51.3 (equivalent to a range of 8.2 dB to 17.1 dB).

Astronomical Observations

For applications that are not limited by background or shot noise, an imaging device with negligible readout noise is paramount for high quality observation. In that regard, the EMCCD’s sub-electron readout noise makes it the ideal candidate for low light imaging application, which often arises in astronomy. However, due to the stochastic nature of the electron-multiplying gain that counters readout noise, EMCCDs are flawed with an excess noise factor (ENF) that has the same effect on the signal-to-noise ratio as halving the quantum efficiency (QE) of the camera.

To counter this effect, one can operate the EMCCD in photon counting (PC); doing so completely suppresses the ENF, allowing the chip to reach unmatched sensitivities in low light detection, as demonstrated below.

NGC7331 radial velocity field extracted from Fabry-Pérot spectroscopy data. The data were gathered at the 1.6-m Mont Mégantic telescope at a spectral resolution of 15000. Left: intensified CCD acquisition. Right: Nüvü Camēras EM N2 acquisition. This is among the very first demonstration of the potential of photon-counting imaging in astronomy.

Obtain a quote

Any questions about EMCCD or low light imaging? Nüvü Camēras experts can provide advices on your low light imaging options. Our patented technology may very well be useful to improve both image quality and acquisition rates for any low light application. Please feel free to contact our experienced application scientists for more information.