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Marana sCMOS

Marana is Andor’s latest high performance sCMOS camera platform for Astronomy and Physical Sciences. It launches with the large field of view Marana 4.2B-11 back-illuminated sCMOS model, featuring 95% Quantum Efficiency (QE) and market-leading vacuum cooling to -45 °C.

  • 95% QE & -45 °C cooling - most sensitive back-illuminated sCMOS available

  • 4.2 Megapixel / 32mm sensor – perfect for astronomy

  • 48 fps full frame (faster with ROI) – track fast events without smear

  • > 99.7% linearity – superb quantitative accuracy across full dynamic range

  • Vacuum longevity & quality – no moisture on sensor, no QE decay

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Marana is Andor’s latest high performance sCMOS camera platform, ideal for diverse applications within the physical sciences such as astronomy, Bose Einstein Condensation, quantum optics, hyperspectral imaging, neutron tomography and fast spectroscopy. It launches with the large field of view Marana 4.2B-11 back-illuminated sCMOS model, featuring 95% Quantum Efficiency (QE), market-leading vacuum cooling to -45 °C and 11 µm pixel for optimal photon collection. The large 32 mm diagonal sensor, coupled with rapid frame rate capability, renders the camera ideal for space debris tracking and Near Earth Object (NEO) detection.

Andor’s unique capability to deliver the ultimate in sCMOS sensitivity means signal to noise can be optimized under light starved conditions, ideal for tracking smaller orbital objects, spectroscopic detection of trace concentrations and BEC fluorescence detection of discrete numbers of atoms/ions. Higher sensitivity also means that exposure times can be shortened, facilitating faster frame rate measurements of dynamic processes, complimented by 48 fps frame rate. Marana 4.2B-11 comes with a choice of QE profiles, the UV enhanced option (‘BU’) extending usefulness towards specific application requirements between 260nm and 400nm. The innovative ‘dual-amplifier’ approach to extended dynamic range is ideal for accurately visualizing and quantifying challenging scenes that have both extremely weak and bright regions, such as solar measurements and spectroscopic materials characterisations. Furthermore, to achieve best-in-class quantification accuracy, Andor have implemented enhanced on-head intelligence to deliver market-leading linearity of > 99.7% across the whole dynamic range, ideal for accurate photometry.

Marana 4.2B-11 utilizes a unique Anti-Glow Technology approach that enables one to usefully access the entire 2048 x 2048 array, offering an impressive 32mm sensor diagonal, which in combination with fast frame rates renders the camera ideal for large sky scanning astronomy. It is also ideal for dense multi-fiber hyperspectral applications. The Marana platform can be readily adapted to Adaptive Optics wavefront sensing. Not only is it capable of producing hundreds of fps with ROIs, it is also specifically architected to minimize data transfer lag.

Marana 4.2B-11 comes with F-mount attachment as standard, however for maximum flexibility Andor can also provide an optional C-mount adapter that is readily exchangeable by the user, usable with ROI sizes up to 1400 x 1400 (2 Megapixel).  For attachment to various low f/# professional telescope configurations, Andor’s Customer Special Request (CSR) service can provide custom mount faceplates tailored to your specific optical needs.

95% QE & lowest noise - Maximum signal to noise for light starved measurements. Detect smaller orbital debris; BEC fluorescence.

4.2 Megapixel and 32 mm diagonal - Largest field of view sCMOS, compatible with wide range of acquisition times. Large sky scanning; Tomography.

UV-optimized QE option - Enhanced UV sensitivity between 260 - 400nm. Wafer Inspection (266nm)

Vacuum Cooled to -45 °C - Very weak signals require lowest noise floor and longer exposures: Don’t be limited by camera thermal noise!

The ONLY vacuum back-illuminated sCMOS - Andor's proprietary UltraVac™ technology protects the sensor from moisture and QE degradation over time.

Anti-Glow Technology - Allows access to full array with long exposures - field of view and sensitivity advantages.

48 fps (4.2 Megapixel) - Image highly dynamic scenes without signal smear. Space debris tracking; NEOs.

Extended Dynamic Range mode - 'One snap quantification' across a 53,000:1 signal range - perfect for Photometry

> 99.7% linearity - Market leading quantitative accuracy over the whole signal range

Superfast Spectroscopy Mode - On-head vertical pixel binning, ideal for dynamic spectroscopy (up to >24,000 spectra/sec).

Adaptive Optics mode - Minimize lag after data collection - transfer of row data immediately after exposing.

User configurable ROI - Image only what is necessary. Accelerate frame rates and save data storage space.

Fan and Water cooling as standard - Water cooling for maximum sensitivity.

USB 3.0 (also called USB 3.1 Gen 1) - A convenient, universally available high speed interface

The Most Sensitive Back-illuminated sCMOS Available

Marana 4.2B-11 back-illuminated sCMOS features 95% Quantum Efficiency (QE) with market-leading vacuum cooling to -45 0C. Benefiting from a unique vacuum design, Marana thermoelectrically cools to -25 0C using only the internal fan for heat dissipation, pushing down to a hugely competitive -45 0C utilizing liquid assisted cooling. The darkcurrent of the GS400 BSI sensor is a significant contributor to overall system noise, so effective cooling becomes essential. With air cooling, Marana has almost 5x lower darkcurrent than the nearest physical science competing camera.

Having the most sensitive Back-illuminated sCMOS camera carries a host of practical advantages within Astronomy and Physical Sciences, for example:

  • Detect smaller objects - More successful Space Debris and NEO tracking
  • Lower laser powers/doses - preserve photosensitive samples
  • Lower detection limits - detect and quantify trace concentrations, e.g. spectroscopy
  • Lower exposure times - follow faster events with high SNR, e.g. Pulsars and fast BEC dynamics
  • Narrowband filters – for example, narrowband Solar imaging of specific emission lines
  • Detect fluorescence from discrete atoms - more successful BEC experiments

"Back-illuminated sensors are valued specifically for their enhanced sensitivity. It makes sense to choose the most sensitive camera adaption of this high-end technology"

Anti-Glow: Accessing the Entire Sensor Array

The GSense400 back-illuminated sensor from GPixel is widely recognised to suffer from glow at the edges of the sensor. This glow manifests as false signal and is exposure dependent. The approach so far has either been to (a) live with the glow; (b) only use the middle region of the sensor; or (c) firmware restrict exposure times to 30 milliseconds in order to contain the impact of glow on experiments! Either way, this fundamentally restricts performance and usefulness across a range of applications, either through field of view limitation or through sensitivity limitation.

Andor have studied and characterised this sensor issue in detail and have developed and implemented a unique anti-glow technology to radically suppress the sensor glow effect. The figure below shows a dark image of the GSense400BSI back-illuminated sensor with and without anti-glow technology – the difference it makes is stark and has enabled Andor to open up the full 2048 x2048 array, while also allowing exposure times up to 20 seconds.

Extended Dynamic Range and Superb Linearity

The innovative Dual Amplifier architecture of sCMOS sensors uniquely circumvents the need to choose between high or low gain amplifiers, in that signal can be sampled simultaneously by both high gain (low noise) and low gain (high capacity) amplifiers. As such, the lowest noise of the sensor can be harnessed alongside the maximum well depth, affording widest possible dynamic range. Uniquely for such a relatively small pixel design, this allows for dynamic range performance of 53,000:1 in Marana.

Furthermore, on-camera intelligence delivers a significant linearity advantage, providing unparalleled quantitative measurement accuracy across the full dynamic range.

Fast Frame Rates

The sCMOS sensor in Marana 4.2B-11 has highly parallel readout architecture, facilitating high data readout rates and therefore fast frame rates. All columns possess their own Amplifier and Analogue to Digital Converter (ADC), meaning that all columns are read out in parallel.

Marana 4.2-11 offers fast frame rate capability, rendering it ideal for dynamic applications while avoiding motion smear, applications such as Space Debris and NEO tracking, Pulsar imaging, Solar polarimetry, Lucky imaging/Speckle Interferometry and BEC dynamics. Region of Interest (ROI) and 12-bit readout mode can be utilized to considerably boost frame rates further.

12-bit mode for 2x speed boost!  Marana 4.2B-11 is architected to offer both 16-bit and 12-bit modes. 12-bit is selected specifically to accelerate frame rate by 2x, while sacrificing wide dynamic range, useful for imaging fast phenomena that are exclusively low light, such as following BEC dynamics on discrete numbers of fluorescent cold atoms.

Rolling Shutter and Simulated Rolling Shutter

Marana 4.2B-11 utilizes a Rolling Shutter exposure mechanism. Rolling shutter essentially means that different lines of the array are exposed at different times as the read out ‘wave’ sweeps through the sensor, a row at the bottom starting the exposure approximately 21 ms before rows at the sensor’s distal edge. The lowest readout noise and fastest frame rates are available from this mode. Rolling shutter only presents an issue when imaging relatively large, fast moving objects within the field. Then, aside from the risk of motion blur that can affect any imaging condition in which rate of motion is being temporally under-sampled, there is an additional possibility of rolling shutter spatial distortion. However, distortion is less likely when relatively small objects are moving at a rate that is being temporally oversampled by the frame rate, which in fact describes the vast majority of use cases.

A further potential downside of rolling shutter is that different regions of the exposed image will not be precisely correlated in time to other regions, which can be essential for some applications. For example, if a cell is electrically stimulated and it is important to measure the onset of calcium sparks relative to the stimulation event, then rolling shutter should not be used. In this case, a true global shutter mode is required, available in Zyla 5.5 and Neo 5.5 sCMOS cameras.

Multiple Optical Mount Options

Marana 4.2B-11 ships as default with standard F-mount optical coupling, however, the user can readily convert the camera for use with either C-mount or T-mount lenses, simply by selecting these additional optical mount accessories at time of order. C-mount may be used with cropped sub-array sizes up to 1400 x 1400, yielding a 22mm sensor diagonal.

For attachment to various professional telescope configurations, the camera front end can be direct mounted, providing f/# 0.7 with 72° cone angle.  Through engagement with Andor’s Customer Special Request (CSR) service, custom mount faceplates can be tailored to your specific optical needs.

Fast Spectroscopy Mode

Marana 4.2B-11 can be readily adapted to the needs of fast spectroscopy, yielding up to greater than 24K spectra/sec. Such spectral rates are ideal for following fast reaction dynamics on sub-millisecond stopped flow timescales. Fast spectral kinetics capability can also be used for ‘pseudo-gated’ time-resolved functionality, whereby the first series of spectra from a fast series can be discarded to ‘gate out’ the effects of the initial exciting laser pulse.

On-camera FPGA real time asymmetric pixel binning allows for optimized optical matching and maximum photon collection, while a complimentary on-camera bit depth of 32-bit capability allows for very high binned effective well depths, ideal for fast transient absorption measurements.

Spurious Noise Filter

Andor’s Marana sCMOS camera comes equipped with an in-built FPGA filter that operates in real time to reduce the frequency of occurrence of high noise pixels. This real time filter corrects for pixels that would otherwise appear as spurious ‘salt and pepper’ noise spikes in the image.

The appearance of such noisy pixels is analogous to the situation of Clock Induced Charge (CIC) noise spikes in EMCCD cameras, in that it is due to the fact that we have significantly reduced the noise in the bulk of the sensor that the remaining small percentage of spuriously high noise pixels can become an aesthetic issue. The filter employed dynamically identifies such high noise pixels and replaces them with the mean value of the neighbouring pixels.

FPGA Timestamp

The Marana platform can generate a timestamp for each image that is accurate to 25 nanoseconds. Accurate timestamps can be important where precise knowledge of frame time impacts temporal dynamic analysis. This is especially important for fast events, where computer and interface latencies need to be considered, for example in Pulsar studies.

Flexible pixel binning

The Marana models feature on-camera flexible pixel binning, user definable to 1 pixel granularity. Greater binning flexibility can be useful for some photon starved applications where resolution can be sacrificed in favour of enhanced photon collection area per pixel - e.g. extremely low light luminescence experiments.

GPU Express

The Andor GPU Express library has been created to simplify and optimize data transfers from camera to a CUDA-enabled NVidia Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) card to facilitate accelerated GPU processing as part of the acquisition pipeline. GPU Express integrates easily with SDK3 for Andor sCMOS cameras, providing a user-friendly but powerful solution for management of high bandwidth data flow challenges; ideal for data intensive applications such as Light Sheet Microscopy, Super-Resolution Microscopy and Adaptive Optics.

  • Enhanced convenience, afforded by simple, optimized GPU data management
  • Guaranteed optimal data throughout
  • Superb, easily accessible documentation and examples.


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