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Using iXon EMCCD Cameras for Quantum Imaging

What is Quantum Imaging?

At the scale of single atom and even below at the subatomic level, the laws of classical mechanics are replaced by the laws of quantum mechanics. So, as we encounter those levels of resolution in camera technology, we can expect to see the influences of the quantum world in our experiments. Consequently, we can use the unexpected properties of quantum mechanics to push the boundaries of discovery in physical science.

The quantum mechanical property of entanglement – called by Einstein ‘Spooky action at a distance’ - where one photon influences the properties of a second which may be separated from it by a distance is beginning to extend the range of spectroscopic and imaging measurements.

Being able to detect entangled photons requires extremely sensitive detectors such as the iXon EMCCD range.

iXon EMCCD Camera for Quantum Imaging

The Andor iXon EMCCD camera is a powerful tool for quantum imaging. The iXon camera is an EMCCD camera or electron multiplication CCD camera that amplifies the number of electrons generated by each detected photon by several orders of magnitude. This allows the iXon EMCCD camera to detect single photons with high sensitivity. It is being used by many high-profile research groups for Quantum Imaging experiments.

EMCCD Properties Suitable for Quantum Imaging

One of the properties making the iXon camera suitable for quantum imaging is its high quantum efficiency (QE) typically greater than 90%. This means that more than 90% of the incoming photons are converted into an electrical signal. So, single-molecule fluorescence and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, can be observed.

A second property of the camera is its high temporal resolution. The iXon camera can acquire images at high frame rates, typically up to 1,000 frames per second, which enables detection of fast dynamic processes. Thus, the iXon camera is ideal for tracking single molecules over time.

Low Read Noise and Cooling for Quantum Imaging

The iXon camera also has a low read noise, which gives it a high signal-to-noise ratio and superior image quality. The camera is therefore ideal for fluorescence lifetime imaging, where the detection of weak signals is required.

The iXon Ultra is a back-illuminated EMCCD and is ideal for studying entangled photons in quantum computing, communication, and cryptography.

See the iXon Ultra specification sheet for more information.

iXon EMCCD for Quantum Imaging Specifications

Models iXon Ultra 888 iXon Ultra 897
Core attributes Field of view, sensitivity and speed Sensitivity and speed
Sensor format 1024 x 1024 512 x 512
Sensor diagonal 18.8 mm 11.6 mm
Read Noise < 1 e- with EM Gain  < 1 e- with EM Gain
Cooling -95°C -100°C
Darkcurrent 0.00011 e-/pixel/sec 0.00015 e-/pixel/sec
Spurious Background (CIC) 0.005 events/pixel 0.0018 events/pixel
QE Options BV, EX2, UVB BV, EX2, UVB
Frame Rate 26 fps (670 fps with 128 x 128 Crop Mode)  56 fps (595 fps with 128 x 128 Crop Mode)
Pixel well depth 80,000 e- 180,000 e-
Interface USB 3.0 USB 2.0
Learn More  iXon Ultra 888 EMCCD iXon Ultra 897 EMCCD


  • ‘Imaging with Quantum States of Light’ Nature Reviews Physics 1,367-380 2019 P-A Moreau, E Toninelli, M.J Padgett.
  • ‘Quantum Imaging: Pushing the Boundaries of Optics’ Phys.Org Jan 3 2022 Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

Date: January 2023

Author: Andor Technology

Category: Technical Article

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