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iXon EMCCD Cameras

With the iXon EMCCD cameras, Andor have delivered a dedicated, truly high-end, yet accessible ultrasensitive scientific camera platform, designed specifically to drive the absolute best from EMCCD technology across all critical performance specs and parameters.

New iXon Life - Exclusively for Fluorescence Microscopy 

  • Single photon sensitivity 
  • Back-illuminated > 95% QE 
  • Fast frame rates 
  • Unique price/performance
  • The ultimate detector for single molecules
  • Preserve accurate cell physiology 
  • Now with SRRF-Stream super-resolution
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EMCCD Applications 

SRRF-Stream for Super-Resolution Radial Fluctuations

SRRF is a NEW real time super-resolution microscopy functionality that operates on Andor’s iXon Life and iXon Ultra EMCCD cameras.

Aligned with Andor’s vision that super-resolution should be easily accessible to all, ‘SRRF-Stream enabled’ cameras unlock the means to perform real time super resolution microscopy on conventional modern fluorescence microscopes. Resolution improvement from 2- to 6-fold (50-150nm final resolution) can be expected for most datasets.

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Single Molecule Detection

For many years, Andor’s iXon EMCCDs have been the gold standard detectors of the biophysics laboratory. To this day they remaining the dominant detector type, operating in a low light regime that is less suited to even back-illuminated sCMOS cameras, especially under the critically demanding conditions of minimized fluorophore photobleaching. The accelerated readout rates of the iXon Life, especially combined with ‘Optically Centred Crop Mode’, means that dynamic single molecule processes can be better characterised.

The 13μm pixel of the 888 model provides superb single molecule resolving capability at the diffraction limit, while preserving optical photon collection efficiency.

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Physiology / Ion Imaging & Cell Motility

Unsurpassed EMCCD sensitivity and superb custom ROI speeds make the iXon Life 888 and 897 the best possible detectors for temporally resolving fast calcium sparks and waves under minimal dye concentrations, critical to reducing the ‘dye buffering effect’ that can distort the very physiology that is under study.

Light levels become more challenging still when combined with low light optical sectioning modalities, making EMCCD ultrasensitivity all the more necessary. The same EMCCD advantages play equally well to imaging of the motile cell.

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Spinning Disk Confocal Microscopy

The iXon Life 888 is the ideal detector to drive superlative performance from confocal spinning disk technology. Whilst affording superb confocality and low rates of phototoxicity, spinning disk experiments are inherently photon starved, by virtue of the photon rejection implicit to optical sectioning.

The superior sensitivity of the iXon Life detector brings these low light images to life.

Note, often high-end confocal systems are equipped with a second Andor Zyla sCMOS camera to access the highest possible resolution and field of view, provided the sample is sufficiently bright.

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Quantum Physics & BEC

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. Quantum entanglement understanding is the basis of the growing fields of quantum computing and quantum cryptography.

The iXon Ultra EMCCD platform is a well established platform for single photon detection. With deep cooling down to -100 °C and minimized Clock Induced Charge (CIC) noise, the Ultra provides the single photon counting discrimination required for successful detection in these demanding experiments.

The iXon Ultra has for many years been the detector of choice in cold atom/ion trap experiments. With EMCCD and CCD amplifiers, the camera can be readily adapted to both fluorescence and absorption BEC set-ups. Further more, the Ultra can be optimized for enhanced NIR detection and/or fringe suppression, along with a custom AR-coated entrance window.

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Fast Astronomy

Featuring single photon sensitivity, TE cooling to -100 °C and > 95% QE, the iXon Ultra EMCCD range has been central to many demanding observing initiatives, such as the RAVEN ‘Multi-Object Adaptive Optics’ system at the Subaru Telescope (Hawaii), CHIMERA, the Caltech high speed multi-color camera for detecting transiting objects in the Kuiper Belt and as a guide camera and science camera on SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (pictured).

The dual EMCCD and CCD capability of the larger format iXon Ultra 888  model extends the application usage of this versatile camera.

Key iXon EMCCD applications within astronomy include AO wavefront sensing, high time resolution astrophysics, speckle imaging and transit surveys.

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Bioluminescence Microscopy

The advantage of bioluminescence microscopy over fluorescence microscopy relies on the absence of autofluorescent background, and, since no light source is necessary to excite the probe, photobleaching or phototoxic effects are remarkably reduced. However, bioluminescent proteins have relatively weak brightness compared with fluorophores. Ideal detectors should thus have high quantum efficiency and reduced source of noise in order to optimize the detection limit.

iXon Ultra offers the best-in-class solution for ultrasensitive bioluminescence imaging across a range of exposure conditions. Single photon sensitivity, back-illuminated QE and deep TE cooling combine to shorten exposure times, such that high quality faster time-lapse imaging is easily achievable. ‘2-in-1’ choice of EMCCD and CCD modes further enhance application flexibility.

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Distinctions between iXon Ultra and iXon Life models 

iXon Ultra 

Driving the absolute best from EMCCD technology 

The market leading EMCCD camera, Andor’s iXon Ultra has been long recognised as the highest performance, most versatile solution for the most demanding of light starved applications. Available for both physical and life science applications, iXon Ultra delivers unbeatable flexibility and functionality, offering market leading TE cooling, ‘2-in-1’ EMCCD and CCD readout modes and a host off other high end functionality.

New iXon Life

High performance at a low price! 

Andor’s new iXon Life EMCCD platform is available exclusively for fluorescence microscopy applications and is engineered to deliver single photon sensitivity with absolutely unparalleled price/performance. Perfect for single molecule detection and live cell microscopy with minimized phototoxicity or photobleaching, but at a price not normally associated with high-performance EMCCD cameras.

iXon Ultra  iXon Life 
Conventional CCD Amplifier  Yes -
Integrated Shutter Yes  -
Minimum TE Cooling Temperature -100 °C -80 °C
Direct Data Access (CameraLink)  Yes
EMCCD Mode Readout speeds (MHz) 888 model - 30, 20, 10 & 1897 model - 17, 10, 5 & 1 888 model - 30 & 10897 model - 17 & 10
Single Photon Counting Modes Yes -

iXon model options 

Each of the model types listed are available in both 'Ultra' and 'Life' platforms

Benefit from the best

The Electron Multiplying CCD (EMCCD) operates by amplification (EM Gain) of weak signal events to a signal level that is well clear of the read noise floor of the camera at any readout speed, rendering them single photon sensitive.

While recent innovations in high QE, low noise sCMOS technology are certainly welcomed for broad scientific usage, only EMCCDs can deliver the raw sensitivity required for the most light starved conditions, and the key application benefits that this unlocks.

Andor’s market leading iXon design ensures the absolute highest sensitivity from a quantitative scientific digital camera, particularly under fast frame rate conditions.

Andor’s proven UltraVac™ vacuum technology, carrying a 7 year warranty, is critical to ensure both deep cooling and complete protection of the sensor. The iXon series is designed to be the most flexible yet easy to use EMCCD camera on the market, optimizable for a wide variety of application requirements in a single click via the OptAcquire™ feature. Furthermore, signal can be quantitatively calibrated in units of electrons or photons, either real time or post-processing.


Single Molecule Detection – single molecule experiments present us with the considerable challenge of harnessing the limited photon budget from dynamic, individual fluorescent molecules, while also avoiding photobleaching. Andor iXon EMCCDs have continued to radically out-perform sCMOS detectors in this most demanding of light starved application areas.

Super-Resolution – SRRF-Stream is a NEW real time super-resolution microscopy functionality that operates on Andor’s iXon EMCCD cameras. ‘SRRF-Stream unlocks the means to perform real time super resolution microscopy on conventional modern fluorescence microscopes. Resolution improvement from 2- to 6-fold (50-150nm final resolution) can be expected for most datasets.

Reduced phototoxicity – iXon facilitates use of lowest possible excitation power while maintaining superb signal to noise ratio, minimizing phototoxic effects. No other camera is this good at preserving your cell’s physiological behaviour over extended periods of measurement.

Lowest fluorophore concentrations – There is an ongoing drive in fluorescence microscopy to push to lower and lower fluorophore concentrations in order not to perturb the physiology of the living cells being studied. iXon’s superior sensitivity facilitates use of unprecedentedly low label concentrations, thus minimizing the ‘observer effect’.

Single Photon Counting – iXon Ultra presents the absolute lowest noise levels possible, providing the level of discrimination needed to confidently detect and register single photon events, ideal for demanding quantum physics applications such as entangled photon studies.

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