Live From Photonics West 2012: Scientific CMOS Camera Introduction

Source: PCO-TECH Inc.
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Murad Karmali of PCO-TECH Inc. (formerly The COOKE Corporation) discusses the features of several cameras, including the pco.edge scientific CMOS camera. Used in super resolution microscopy, single molecule imaging, calcium imaging, and other applications, the pco.edge simultaneously offers extremely low noise, fast frame rates, wide dynamic range, high quantum efficiency, high resolution, and large field of view.

Video Transcript

Murad Karmali: Good morning. This is Murad Karmali. I am with The Cooke Corporation (now PCO-TECH Inc.). This corporation is a subsidiary of PCO in Germany. We are a manufacturer of scientific CMOS as well as CCD and regular CMOS cameras.

What I would like to do today is introduce you to the pco.edge. This is one of the first scientific CMOS cameras that were introduced to the market. This scientific CMOS technology specifically is advantageous because it allows for simultaneously getting high frame rate, high resolution, high dynamic range, and very low noise.

In applications where all of these features are useful, this becomes an invaluable type of imaging camera. Specifically it has 5.5 megapixels of resolution. It also has down to about one electron of read noise, and we can image 5.5 megapixels at 100 frames per second.

What it also allows for is a 30,000-to-1 dynamic range. It is quite exceptional. We have a 16-bit digitizer to take advantage of that.

Another uniqueness of our scientific CMOS camera design, the pco.edge, is that it has the ability to stream directly to RAM or a computer hard disk. There is no camera memory necessary, hence there is no limitation in terms of recording time or any other device.

The other unique aspect of this design is that it actually allows for direct streaming to RAM or a hard disk. There is no camera memory necessary so it doesn’t create any limitations, and that is one of the differentiations that we have with our design of the CMOS.

The typical applications that the camera is used in are super resolution microscopy, single molecule imaging, calcium imaging, also typical biological applications that require high sensitivity, high frame rate, and can also benefit from high dynamic range.

What we are displaying here is the pco color. This is the first scientific CMOS camera to be introduced to the market. It features the same high-resolution sensor 5.5 megapixels, high frame rate of 100 fps, and the high dynamic range.

In addition to that, it incorporates our unique color rendering algorithms to provide high color reproducibility. For applications that need very good color reproduction such as thermal imaging or broadcast and even scientific applications, this camera would be an ideal option.

What we are showing here is our line of high speed digital cameras. The dimaxes are designed for quantitative imaging at very high frame rates. We have effectively two types of dimaxes.

We have the standard dimax, which is a 2000 x 2000 resolution camera imaging around 1,300 frames per second. We have the dimax HD with HD resolution imaging at about 1,600 frames per second.

The cameras have unique features such as low light sensitivity and very high dynamic range, and this is what makes them ideal for a lot of scientific high-speed applications as well as military and industrial R&D applications.

What we are also showing here is a feature with the ability to attach an HD-SDI monitor to the dimax so you can get HD quality display in addition to normally hooking it up to a monitor.

The typical applications that we have sold these cameras into involve scientific imaging such as combustion. Also, we have it for car crash testing. We also are involved with aerial.

Some applications that we have been successfully using the dimaxes in involve automotive car crash testing, scientific applications such as combustion imaging, materials testing, and discharge applications.

In addition, we have utilized them in military applications for tracking projectiles and also industrial R&D applications to look at very high speed processes that have perhaps small particles.

Because of the high resolution and small pixel size, it makes it advantageous in these applications.

I would like to introduce you to our line of 1.3-megapixel cameras. We have our pixelfly USB, which is a new addition to the family. Previously, we had a pixelfly that had a PCI interface so this version of the pixelfly allows the use of a USB interface.

You can still do the remote triggering and it is now a 14-bit camera. The read noise is really low at around 6 electrons. It makes it an excellent low-light camera with high dynamic range at a very good price point.

We have here our pco.1400. The pco.1400 is also a 1.3-megapixel camera, 6.5 micron pixel, and it incorporates a firewall interface so we have some options in terms of interfaces, and it is a passively cooled camera. It has excellent heat dissipation and very nice form factor for OEM applications.

That is an overview of our product line, and what we also have is extensive information on our Website, so feel free to visit either or We also have articles as well as application notes and an image gallery to show you the various applications that we’ve been involved with using the cameras that I have just talked about.

In addition, if you are interested in discussing any specialized requirements, whether they are end-user or OEM, we would be happy to discuss and come up with a solution that would help to solve your problem.

Thank you for your participation.