sCMOS Cameras for Physical Science and Astronomy

Andor’s Scientific CMOS (sCMOS) cameras series deliver an advanced set of performance features that render them ideal for high fidelity, quantitative scientific measurements. Providing a wide gamut of application advantages across the physical sciences and astronomy, the multi-megapixel cameras offer a large field of view and high resolution, without compromising noise, dynamic range or frame rate.

NEW Balor – Very Large-Area sCMOS for Astronomy & X-ray/Neutron Detection

  • 16.9 Megapixel for larger sample analysis, large sky surveys
  • 54 fps full frame & 18.5 ms readout for fast transient studies and fast tomography
  • Low noise - detection of weak signals/small objects & faster sample screening times
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NEW Marana 4.2B-6 – High Speed, Back-illuminated sCMOS

  • 4.2 Megapixels, 6.5 µm pixel size, 74 fps (full array)
  • 95% QE and low noise vacuum cooled
  • Ideal for quantum imaging and hyperspectral imaging
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sCMOS for Physical Science Applications

NEOs and Space Debris

A Near-Earth Object (NEO) is any small Solar System body whose orbit brings it into proximity with Earth. As of March 2018, almost 18,000 Near Earth Asteroids have been discovered, of which 887 are larger than 1 km. The inventory is much less complete for smaller objects, which still have potential for large scale damage. While asteroids are constantly being eliminated from our solar system, unfortunately new ones enter it! Thus NEO surveys are required as an ongoing discipline in astronomy.

Orbital Debris, or Space Debris, are terms for the mass of defunct human-made objects in Earth orbit, such as old satellites and spent rocket stages. There are about 500,000 pieces of ‘space junk’ down to items about 0.5 inches (1.27 centimeters) wide in orbit. Of those, about 21,000 objects are larger than 4 inches (10.1 cm) in diameter.

Andor’s NEW Balor very large area sCMOS and Marana back-illuminated sCMOS offer superb solutions for Orbital Debris and NEO tracking cameras – large FoV and high resolution to search more sky, low noise and high QE sensitivity enable high-quality data capture of even relatively small (and dim) objects and rapid frame rates enable temporal oversampling of fast moving objects.

Adaptive Optics in Astronomy (Wavefront Sensing)

Adaptive Optics is an established technique that uses deformable mirrors to provide real time compensation of wavefronts that are distorted by turbulence in the upper atmosphere, thus affording considerable resolution enhancement from ground based telescopes.

Andor sCMOS can be used to address the high speed demands required of wavefront sensing, providing closed loop feedback at several hundred frames per second. Furthermore, Andor’s latest generation sCMOS physical science platform, Marana, is architected to minimize latency in AO set-ups, through transmitting pixel row data for real time analysis as soon as the information is available, thus avoiding the need to first assemble an entire image before it leaves the camera.

Fluid Dynamics using Particle Imaging Velocimetry (PIV)

Particle Imaging Velocimetry (PIV) is an optical method of flow visualization used in research and industry to obtain velocity measurements and related properties in fluids. By taking two closely spaced images or ‘snapshots’ of the species, and using correlation algorithms, it is possible to build up 2D and 3D dynamic flow maps. The key to successful measurements is capturing short pulses of scattered light from the species (or tracers added to it) within a well-controlled timescale on the order of a few 100’s of nanoseconds to a few microseconds typically. 

Generally PIV requires a high sensitivity detector that offers accurate timing schemes in terms of triggering capability.

Andor offers sCMOS solutions for PIV both in our Zyla 5.5 and Neo 5.5 cameras, which offer global shutter snapshot exposure capability. Alternatively, the iStar sCMOS intensified sCMOS camera can be used for PIV, offering enhanced rejection of background photons through use of nanosecond exposure gating, synchronised to the laser pulses.

Dynamic X-Ray Imaging

Faster generation of high resolution, high contrast 3D X-Ray tomographic reconstruction and real time imaging of fast processes are of increasing importance at beamtime-limited synchrotrons and lab-based high energy sources facilities, benefiting applications spanning from Material Science, Biology & Medical, Energy (including fuel cells/batteries/engines) to Fluid Dynamics.

Hard X-ray energy range - Andor’s Zyla (lens or fibre-coupled) and large area Balor (lens-coupled) sCMOS platforms provide simultaneously low noise and fast acquisition rates up to kHz suitable for low and high X-ray photons flux applications, as well as modular interfaces to a wide range of scintillators and low-energy filters.

NEW Balor’s 12 µm, 16 Megapixel matrix offers great flexibility in terms of field-of-view and spatial resolution to address a wide range of sample configurations and analysis techniques (Absorption/phase contrast, diffraction).

Zyla offers the greatest photon collection from the scintillator (state-of-the-art fibre-optic coupled version), greatest spatial resolution (lens-coupled version) with 6.5 µm pixels, as well as ease-of-integration due to its compact form factor.

Neutron Radiography & Tomography

Neutron imaging has wide industrial and scientific significance and can provide detailed information on the inner structure and composition of objects through thick or high-Z material. Neutron imaging relies on the attenuation difference of sample structures, through both scattering and absorption, of a directional neutron beam. It is a complementary technique to X-Ray Radiography. The technique is also non-destructive in nature, and has been effectively applied to the study of Engineered materials and systems (fuel cells & batteries, concrete, aircraft/engine parts), artefacts of archaeological significance or in the field of geology.

Andor’s lens-coupled sCMOS portfolio offers a range of options for the faster framing requirements or to perform faster 3D tomography (or even 4D: 3D + time) that cannot be addressed by traditional CCD-based detectors.

NEW Balor’s 12 µm, 16 Megapixel matrix features a sensitive, large field of view proprietary sensor enabling the rapid analysis of a wide range of sample configurations.

The Marana back-illuminated sCMOS models feature 95% QE for maximum photon collection from the scintillator, and 4.2 Megapixel array readout down to 14 milliseconds for fast tomographic sample screening or imaging of fast processes such as fuel flow.

Cold Atoms and Bose Einstein Condensation

In the past few decades, ultra-cold matter has become a highly dynamic and fascinating field of study. Cutting edge global research is establishing a deep understanding of the underlying physics, feeding into application in areas such as inertial guidance systems, atomic clocks, quantum computing and cryptography.

The high and broad QE profile of Andor sCMOS cameras provides excellent coverage of the visible / NIR wavelength range, often needed to image ultracold fermions at wavelengths of 670 nm and above, in both fluorescence and absorption type set-ups. The Marana 4.2B-11 with UV optimization also provides enhanced sensitivity for cold ion studies of magnesium (280 nm) and calcium (397 nm). The Marana 4.2B-6 offers up to 74 fps with full 16-bit (faster with ROIs), excellent for imaging fast dynamics of Quantum Gases.

Quantum Optics

Quantum entanglement occurs when two particles remain connected, even over large distances, so that actions performed on one particle have an effect on the other. Understanding of quantum entanglement forms the basis of the growing fields of quantum computing and quantum cryptography.

Thanks to their single-photon sensitivity, EMCCDs have been the detectors of choice for many years in experiments involving quantum optics, but sensitive sCMOS cameras have also been successfully used in quantum optics experiments. Indeed, they are expected to become increasingly popular for imaging of qubit states and general validation of basic concepts.

Andor sCMOS cameras can combine large field of view, high speed and high resolution with an image intensifier option, to provide an adaptable solution for experiments involving single entangled photons, atoms or polaritons.

Solar Astronomy

The Sun is the most important celestial object, providing humans with indispensable light and heat, yet we truly know very little about how it works. Solar flares are a regular occurrence whereby magnetic reconnection in the upper solar atmosphere can cause ejection of plasma at over 1,000,000˚C producing the well-known aurorae. However, flares also cause radio blackouts, disrupt flights and satellite communication, and can even knock out electricity supplies on a continental scale.

On the contrary, there have been times where the Sun has not been active. The so-called Maunder Minimum was a period where solar activity seemed to diminish without forewarning. The caused the river Thames to freeze over. Markets were regularly held on the frozen river, while the cold temperatures caused trees to become extremely dense. This wood is the source of all Stradivarius violins!

Such extremes of weather can have a huge impact on mankind. As such, it is vital we attempt to understand the underlying processes behind our nearest star! Andor’s NEW large-format Balor sCMOS camera allows ground-breaking observations of the solar atmosphere with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution. Astronomers will to be able to study the nuances of dynamic events such as magnetic reconnection with stunning accuracy, while also having the large-format capability to view entire flux ropes and sunspots without mosaicking.

sCMOS solutions for all your needs

Andor offers a complete range of sCMOS cameras, spanning a wide envelop of performance attributes. Whether your application requires a large field of view, ultimate sCMOS sensitivity, highest speed capability, high resolution, nanosecond shuttering, X-ray or Neutron detection, or even a compact and light design, you can be confident that we can guide you towards the optimal solution.

Balor sCMOS

Balor sCMOS

Very Large Field of View and Fast Readout
  • 16.9 MP and 12 µm pixel – Search more sky
  • Measure variability from ms to 10’s seconds
  • Orbital Debris, Solar, Exoplanet, In-direct X-Ray/Neutron Tomography
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Marana sCMOS

Marana 4.2B-11

Back-illuminated QE and Large Field of View 
  • 4.2 Megapixel and 11 µm pixel – Large FOV
  • 95% QE and -45 °C vacuum cooling
  • Fast Astronomy; Shutter-free, ultraviolet applications
Specifications Request Pricing

Marana 4.2B-6

Back-illuminated QE and Fastest Speed 
  • 4.2 Megapixel, 6.5 µm pixel at 74 fps
  • 95% QE and -45 °C vacuum cooling
  • Quantum Gases, Lucky Imaging, Fast Spectroscopy
Specifications Request Pricing
Zyla 4.2 PLUS

Zyla 4.2 PLUS

Superb Sensitivity and Speed Combined
  • 4.2 Megapixel and 6.5 µm pixel
  • 82% QE and 100 frames per second
  • Quantum Gases; Wavefront Sensor; Fast Spectroscopy
Specifications Request Pricing
Zyla 5.5 sCMOS

Zyla 5.5 sCMOS

Ultimate Price/Performance ‘Workhorse’ sCMOS
  • 5.5 Megapixel and 6.5 µm pixel
  • 64% QE and 0.9 e- read noise
  • Contains Global (snapshot) and Rolling shutter modes
Specifications Request Pricing
Neo 5.5 sCMOS

Neo 5.5 sCMOS

Ultimate Noise Suppression - Access Long Exposures
  • -40 °C vacuum cooling: 0.007 e- darkcurrent
  • Including vibration sensitive set-ups
  • Contains Global (snapshot) and Rolling shutter modes
Specifications Request Pricing
iStar sCMOS

iStar sCMOS

Nanosecond Gated Imaging/Spectroscopy
  • < 2ns fast gating and 50 frames per second
  • 5.5 Megapixel & high QE photocathode
  • Plasma, Flow Analysis/Combustion, TR-Fluorescence
Specifications Request Pricing


Fast X-Ray
  • High-throughput fiber-optic coupling
  • 5.5 Megapixel at 50 frames per second
  • X-Ray/Neutron Tomography, X-Ray Diffraction
Specifications Request Pricing

Ultimate sCMOS Sensitivity

The Marana models contain a back-illuminated sCMOS sensor with up to 95% QE, complemented by market-leading vacuum cooling of the sensor for lowest noise floor. The Marana 4.2B-11 model features larger 11 µm pixels, optimal for maximum photon capture in light starved applications.

Comparative Signal to Noise under low light conditions (10 incident photons per 100 µm2 sensor area) - Under identical low light optical conditions, the Marana 4.2B-11 with back-illumination and large pixel size is well suited to maximizing photon capture and Signal to Noise.

Ultimate sCMOS Field of View

The flagship Balor 17F-12 camera offers the largest field of view sCMOS solution that is commercially available on the market. The huge 70 mm sensor diagonal from the 4128 (W) x 4104 (H) array is ideal for demanding ‘dynamic’ astronomy applications such as Orbital Debris tracking and Solar astronomy, capable for example of dynamically imaging entire sunspots at high resolution. It is also ideal for atmospheric freezing techniques (Speckle/Lucky imaging) over a much large field of view than is available from Adaptive Optics.

When absolute maximum sensitivity is required over a large field of view, such as for Near Earth Asteroid detection, the Marana 4.2B back-illuminated sCMOS camera utilizes a unique technology approach to usefully access the entire 2048 x 2048 array, offering an impressive 32 mm sensor diagonal.

sCMOS Solutions for Extended Dynamic Range

Andor sCMOS cameras each offer an Extended Dynamic Range functionality, supported by a 16-bit data range. Harnessing an innovative ‘multi-amplifier’ sensor architecture, we can access the maximum pixel well depth AND the lowest noise simultaneously, ensuring that we can quantify extremely weak and relatively bright signal regions in one snap. In the physical sciences, high dynamic range capability is central to countless measurement types, such as in astronomical photometry.

Model Well Depth (e-) Dynamic Range
Marana 4.2B-11 85,000 53,000:1
Marana 4.2B-6 55,000 34,375:1
Balor 17F-12 80,000 27,586:1
Zyla 4.2 PLUS 30,000 33,000:1
Zyla 5.5 30,000 33,000:1
Neo 5.5 30,000 33,000:1

Measurements taken of a high dynamic range test chart using Marana 4.2B-11 in Extended Dynamic Range Mode, which enables accurate quantification of signal intensities that range from the noise floor detection limit to the full pixel well depth.

Furthermore, to achieve best in class quantification accuracy, Andor have implemented enhanced on-head intelligence to deliver market-leading linearity of > 99.7%.

Model Options

Please view our selection of sCMOS cameras below. You can use the drop-down to find a camera suitable for your application.

Model Balor F17-12 Marana 4.2B-11 Marana 4.2B-6 ZL41 Wave 4.2 ZL41 Wave 5.5 iStar sCMOS Zyla HF
Sensor Format 4128 x 4104 2048 x 2048 2048 x 2048 2048 x 2048 2560 x 2160 2560 x 2160 2560 x 2160
Sensor Diagonal (mm) 70 31.9 18.8 18.8 21.8 Ǿ18/25mm intensifiers 21.8
Pixel Size (µm) 12 11 6.5 6.5 6.5 6.5 6.5
QE max (%) 61 95 95 82 64 Up to 50% (Gen3 intensifier) 64
QE Profile Options FI BV, BU BV FI FI Intensifier dependent FI
Cooling (°C) -30 -45 -45 -5 -5 0 -5
Exposure (Shutter) Modes Rolling and Global Rolling Rolling Rolling Rolling and Global Global Rolling and Global
Max. Frame Rate (fps, full array) 54 48 74 100 (CameraLink)
53 (USB 3.0)
100 (CameraLink)
40 (USB 3.0)
50 100 (CameraLink)
40 (USB 3.0)
Read Noise Median (e-) 2.9 1.6 1.6 0.9 0.9 (Rolling)
2.3 (Global)
2.3 (< 1 with Gain) 0.9 (Rolling)
2.3 (Global)
Pixel Well Depth (e-) 80,000 85,000 55,000 30,000 30,000 30,000 30,000
Fast shuttering capability N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Yes (< 2 ns) N/A
Indirect X-ray & Neutron detection Lens coupled Lens coupled Lens coupled Lens coupled Lens coupled N/A Fiber-optic coupled
Interface CoaXPress
(4 Lane CXP-6)
USB 3.0 USB 3.0
CoaXPress (4 Lane))
USB 3.0
Camera Link
USB 3.0
Camera Link
USB 3.0 USB 3.0
Camera Link
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