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KURO, Back-illuminated Scientific CMOS Cameras

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Princeton InstrumentsKURO is the world’s first scientific CMOS (sCMOS) camera system to implement back-illuminated sensor technology. Until now, this key technology has been leveraged almost exclusively by CCD camera systems, which despite their excellent sensitivity, are unable to match CMOS frame rates. Front-illuminated CMOS cameras, meanwhile, cannot meet the high-sensitivity requirements of today’s ultra-low-light scientific imaging and spectroscopy applications. KURO cameras, however, deliver both the fast frame rates and the exceptional sensitivity needed for applications such as hyperspectral imaging, astronomy, cold-atom imaging, quantum imaging, fluorescence spectroscopy, and high-speed spectroscopy, all whilst eliminating the drawbacks commonly associated with front-illuminated scientific CMOS cameras.

New… KURO now available with large format 2048 x 2048 sensor!

KURO-cameras-light-black Princeton Instruments - Te Lintelo SystemsKURO sCMOS camera systems include the following key features:

  • Back-illuminated sCMOS detector with >95% peak QE
  • Reduced fixed-pattern noise
  • High speed and low read noise
  • No microlenses on pixels
  • Large pixels and wide dynamic range
  • Flexible trigger modes
  • Optimized for spectroscopy (1200B)
  • Powerful 64-bit LightField software


Back-illuminated sCMOS detector with >95% peak QE

The KURO features a back-illuminated sensor architecture just like that of the most sensitive CCD detectors available. The back-illuminated technology utilized by the KURO allows this next-generation sCMOS camera system to deliver >95% quantum efficiency (QE) and 100% fill factor.

The KURO uses the latest sCMOS fabrication technology along with optimized electronics. As a result, it has a significantly better noise profile than any previous-generation, front-illuminated sCMOS camera.

Unlike front-illuminated sCMOS cameras, which claim ~80% peak QE, the KURO does not use microlenses to recapture light from the masked area of the pixel. Microlenses significantly degrade QE when light is incident at any angle other than normal to the sensor surface.

High speed and low read noise?

KURO sCMOS cameras have exceptionally low 1.3 e- read noise. The KURO 1200B delivers high frame rates of 82 fps (12 bits) or 41 fps (16 bits), and the KURO 2048B delivers 47 (12 bits) or 23 fps (16 bits). These cameras are controlled by our powerful, 64-bit LightField software and are capable of delivering hundreds of fps with custom ROI.

Large pixels and wide dynamic range

The 11 µm, 2 pixel pitch of the KURO sensor captures 2.8x more photons than previous-generation sCMOS sensors. Each pixel can also handle a large full well of 80,000 electrons, allowing excellent dynamic range (61,500:1 or 95 dB)

Which Sensor Technology?

Scientists and engineers should carefully consider which sensor technology is best suited to their application. In general, for imaging or spectroscopy applications that require extended integration times (seconds to hours), CCD or EMCCD cameras are still preferred. This is also true for spectroscopy applications that require on-chip binning. Meanwhile, for time-resolved applications that require ultrafast gating, intensified cameras (ICCD or emICCD) are the best choice. Back-illuminated sCMOS cameras provide the sensitivity and frame rates needed for all other applications with relatively short integration times (less than 10 seconds). Table 3 summarizes several key features of these sensor technologies and offers some general recommendations for different applications.

Scientific CMOS sensors typically do not support on-chip binning. However, the KURO camera’s low read noise and support of software binning (off-chip binning) make it ideal for high-speed spectroscopy applications. Furthermore, the pixel pitch of its sensor is a perfect match for optimal use with the award-winning, aberration-free IsoPlane® spectrometer from Princeton Instruments.

Powered by LightField software

Designed for operation within the Princeton Instruments LightField software ecosystem, the KURO is easy to control and can be integrated quickly in myriad imaging and spectroscopy experiments. Camera integration for use with both MATLAB® (MathWorks) and LabVIEW® (National Instruments) is also fast and simple.


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