Monday, 06/22/2009 | sCMOS - scientific CMOS

    Fairchild Imaging, PCO AG, and Andor Technology combine resources to give CMOS technology long heralded world lead position

    Laser World of Photonics - Munich, Germany, 16 June 2009 - CMOS image sensor (CIS) technology today stands on the brink of fulfilling its potential to become the global detector platform of choice for scientific photonics applications that require world class performance in the fields of sensitivity, speed, dynamic range, resolution, and field of view.

    The results of pioneering work, pooled resources and shared expertise by scientists from Andor Technology (Northern Ireland), Fairchild Imaging (United States) and PCO AG (Germany) will be revealed with the publication of a ground-breaking white paper at the Laser Conference and Exhibition in Munich (15 – 18 June 2009, see figure above).

    The document presents sCMOS, a breakthrough technology based on next-generation CIS design and fabrication techniques. sCMOS is poised for widespread recognition as a true scientific grade CIS, 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.

    “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 AG, 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 ?m
    • 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 PCO, Andor Technololgy, and Fairchild Imaging include:

    Live cell microscopy

    Particle Imaging Velocimetry (PIV)

    Single Molecule Detection

    Super resolution microscopy

    Lucky astronomy/imaging

    Adaptive optics

    Solar astronomy


    Fluorescence Spectroscopy

    Bio- and Chemo-Luminescence

    Genome sequencing (2nd and 3rd generation)

    High content screening

    Biochip reading

    Photovoltaic inspection

    X-ray tomography

    Machine vision


    Spectral (hyperspectral) imaging


    Spinning disk confocal microscopy



    Laser Induced Breakdown spectroscopy


    For more information, visit or download the white paper.