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iKon CCD Cameras

The iKon ‘slow scan’ CCD camera series deliver unique thermoelectric cooling to -100°C for industry-leading low noise performance, highly efficient back-illuminated photon collection across a broad spectral range and exceptional dynamic range. Very large field of view is available from the iKon-XL CCD camera range, ideal for large sky surveys in astronomy. The robust quality, low maintenance, hassle-free design is ideal for usage across many experimental set-ups, including at remote observatories.

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iKon CCD Camera Applications

iKon deep-cooled CCDs are suited primarily to ‘slow’ low-light imaging applications that typically involve long exposures (from tens of seconds to minutes or even hours) combined with a relatively slow image readout, typified by usage in astronomy or weak luminescence detection. However, a special Fast Kinetics mode can be accessed to obtain bursts of data with microsecond dynamics, ideal for quantum gas absorption experiments. A combination of low noise floor, excellent photon response over a wide optical wavelength range and superb image uniformity guides the usage of iKon CCDs.

Exoplanet Discovery

Andor’s large area iKon-XL and iKon-L back-illuminated CCD cameras have used extensively for Transit and Radial Velocimetry Exoplanet science. Large field of view enables more sky to be surveyed and low noise combined with high QE (>95% peak QE) and large pixel well depth support high precision photometry over an extensive range of magnitudes.

Sensor options for extended NIR performance (‘BEX2-DD’ and ‘BR-DD’) allow for the detection of small planets orbiting cool stars. Furthermore, the iKon-XL CCD and iKon-L CCD cameras are perfectly suited for usage in remote observing sites, thanks to the UltraVac™ vacuum thermoelectric cooling technology, enabling superb sensor longevity and avoiding the need for vacuum re-pumping.

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Astronomical Spectroscopy

Spectroscopic characterisation is a common methodology in astronomical observations, permitting study of the physical properties of various types of celestial objects such as stars, galaxies, planets, nebulae and planets. Spectroscopic detail can yield an abundance of useful information, including chemical composition, temperature, density, mass, distance and relative speed. Such detail can even be used to infer some understanding about that which cannot be directly detected – dark energy! Extremely high-resolution spectroscopy is also used in Radial Velocimetry as a means of exoplanet detection and characterisation.

Wide field spectroscopic surveys often involve hundreds of fibre optics at the telescope focal plane, feeding signal into an advanced high resolution spectrograph, which in turn is coupled to a large area, high resolution CCD detector. For wide field astronomical spectroscopy instruments, Andor strongly recommends the iKon-XL and iKon-L -100 °C thermoelectrically cooled CCDs, yielding maximum SNR and high dynamic range over a wide range of exposure durations. Each is available in standard silicon or deep depletion formats, the latter providing enhanced NIR performance.

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Quantum Gases

Quantum degenerate gases, such as Bose Einstein Condensates (BEC) or Degenerate Fermi Gases (DFG) , are often imaged using absorption imaging because this method provides a reliable image of the density distribution of the ultracold atom cloud and therefore can give insight into the physical properties of the cloud. The achievement of quantum degeneracy is usually varied through a measurement of the density distribution of the atom cloud either after a ballistic expansion or within the trap. Furthermore, the existence of a condensate is often determined by absorption images of the atom cloud after its release from a trap, which can require a means of fast kinetic measurement.

Andor’s iKon-M 934 back-illuminated CCD has been used extensively for absorption imaging of quantum degenerate gases. Low noise and high QE yield optimal SNR across a wide spectral range. In particular, the enhanced NIR response of deep depletion sensor types (‘BR-DD’ and ‘BEX2-DD’) have often been used for 780nm absorption of Rubidium BECs. ‘Fast Kinetics Mode’ can be used to image the released cloud with microsecond temporal dynamics.

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CCD camera solutions for a range of scientific needs

Andor offer a portfolio of deep cooled, back-illuminated CCD cameras, spanning a range of field of view requirements and offering optimized response across a very broad spectral range.

iKon-XL 231

Very Large FoV & Near-IR Enhancement
  • 16.8 Megapixel & 15 µm pixel: 87mm diagonal
  • Low maintenance vacuum TE cooling to -100 °C
  • Lowest read noise & 18-bit dynamic range
  • Deep-depletion NIR options: Astrospectroscopy & Exoplanet
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iKon-XL 230

Very Large FoV & Lowest Darkcurrent
  • 16.8 Megapixel & 15 µm pixel: 87 mm diagonal
  • Low maintenance vacuum TE cooling to -100 °C
  • Optimal darkcurrent performance with air cooling
  • Lowest darkcurrent sensor: max SNR with very long exposures.
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iKon-L 936

Large FoV & Near-IR Enhancement
  • 4.2 Megapixel & 13.5 µm pixel: 39 mm diagonal
  • Low maintenance vacuum TE cooling to -100 °C
  • X-Ray or Neutron experiments
  • Deep-depletion NIR options: Astrospectroscopy, Exoplanet
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iKon-M 934

Medium FoV: Quantum Imaging and Luminescence
  • 1 Megapixel & 13 µm pixel: 19 mm diagonal
  • Low maintenance vacuum TE cooling to -100 °C
  • Deep-depletion NIR options: Rubidium BEC 780nm
  • Fast Kinetics Mode (µs dynamics): Rapid BEC dynamics
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PV Inspector

Optimized for In-Line PhotoVoltaic Inspection
  • > 90% QE beyond 800nm
  • Rapid readout for high throughput
  • Fast dual exposure time switching
  • In-line Electroluminescence and Photoluminescence
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Market-leading CCD Sensitivity

All iKon models offer a complimentary combination of technologies that ensure maximum Signal to Noise ratio under very low light signal conditions.

  • -100 °C thermoelectric cooling: Market-leading permanent vacuum cooling ensures that darkcurrent is minimized across a range of long exposure durations ranging from minutes to hours.
  • Minimized read noise: Often regarded as the true detection limit, Andor optimizes and minimizes the read noise floor for each camera shipped.
  • Back-illuminated QE & NIR enhancement: All iKon CCD sensors are back-illuminated, maximizing photon collection through highest possible QE, including deep depletion technology for enhanced NIR response (complimented by fringe-suppression technology to reduce NIR etaloning).
Quantum efficiency versus wavelength of the standard Silicon (‘BV’) and deep depletion (‘BR-DD’ and ‘BEX2-DD’) iKon-XL & iKon-L sensor options.

Quantum efficiency versus wavelength of the standard Silicon (‘BV’) and deep depletion (‘BR-DD’ and ‘BEX2-DD’) iKon-XL & iKon-L sensor options. Overlaid are the peak wavelengths λmax. of the Sun and the exoplanet-hosting M-dwarf GJ 1132. This highlights the higher quantum efficiency in the NIR of deep depletion sensors, which is of great importance for observations of cool stars, such as M-dwarfs.

Large Field of View

The iKon-XL platform offers a huge 87 mm sensor diagonal from the 16.8 Megapixel array, ideal for large sky photometric or astrometric surveys such as exoplanet discovery. iKon-XL is also highly suited for use in astro-spectroscopic surveys, for example, coupled to high spectral resolution Echelle spectrographs. Custom lens windows can be offered (while maintaining a permanent vacuum in the sensor chamber) for optimal optical uniformity. 

Note, when a large field of view is required to follow photometric or astrometric changes across shorter timescales (ranging from milliseconds to tens of seconds), Andor’s Balor large area sCMOS platform presents an ideal solution.

Low Maintenance Astronomy

The UltraVac™ permanent vacuum enclosure of iKon-XL and iKon-L is particularly relevant to the needs of astronomers, where cameras are often in remote unmanned observing locations and need to operate without service intervention, over long durations of time. Furthermore, thermoelectric cooling down to -100 °C, even for very large area sensors, circumvents the need to utilize liquid nitrogen or unreliable compressed gas coolers in order to minimize camera darkcurrent. Finally, the iKon-XL is equipped with an easy field-replaceable shutter, ideal for frequent shutter-cycle applications such as transit exoplanet surveys.

Model Options

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

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