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Sona sCMOS

Sona is Andor’s latest high performance sCMOS camera series, specifically for life science imaging applications. The new and enhanced Sona-6 Extreme is now more sensitive and faster! An exceptional combination of sensitivity, speed and resolution for optimal imaging performance across many applications.

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

  • Up to 135 fps full frame – follow dynamic processes without smear

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

  • 6.5 µm & 11µm pixel size options – suit most magnifications & applications

  • SRRF-Stream+ technology - resolve detail to ~100 nm from a normal microscope

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Sona is Andor’s latest high performance sCMOS camera series, specifically developed for life science imaging applications. All Sona models feature the latest back-illuminated sCMOS sensor technology with 95% Quantum Efficiency (QE). Sona exploits Andor’s technical know how as a leader in sCMOS technology to extract the very best from these new generation sensors. Sona is the only back-illuminated sCMOS camera with a permanent vacuum technology for unmatched longevity and deepest cooling. ​

New Sona-6 Extreme​

  • Back-illuminated 4.2 Megapixel sensor with 6.5 µm pixels. This format matches perfectly with modern microscope port sizes and provides optimal resolution for the widely used 40x and 60x magnifications. A QE of 95% maximizes signal collection, which when combined with thermoelectric cooling to -45°C, results in an ultra-low noise floor, and the highest possible sensitivity for demanding low-light applications.​
  • The Sona-6 just got more sensitive and even faster! With “Sona Extreme” we have boosted the capabilities of the Sona-6 to the maximum. Read noise has been reduced by over 25% to boost detection. A new High-Speed mode accelerates the sensor to a stunning 135 fps! Image quality has also been enhanced with PRNU improved by 25%! So whether you are capturing the faintest signals, or dynamic processes of the cell, the latest Sona-6 is sure to provide exceptional imaging performance.​


  • Sona-11 (32 mm) provides the largest sensor available for microscopy with an amazing 32 mm sensor diagonal! This has been made possible by unique technologies such as AntiglowTM to unlock the full sensor array. With the Sona-11 you can see much more in each image than any other competing camera. Capture more data. Boost productivity. The 95% QE back-illuminated sensor and large 11µm pixel size delivers optimal photon collection under light-starved applications like TIRF, confocal and SMLM.​
  • Sona-11 (22 mm) offers the sensor in a 22 mm format maximising field of view from the standard C-mount fitting.​

Both the Sona-6 and Sona-11 are real-time super-resolution capable. Reveal the hidden details of the cell to 100 nm with a Sona camera and our exclusive SRRF-Stream+ technology!

95% QE & lowest noise - Observe live cells over longer durations / measure more accurate physiology

4.2 Megapixel & 32 mm F-mount: Sona-11 (32mm) - Maximum field of view and sensitivity, capture maximum field of cells and large tissue samples. Easily adaptable to 60x and 40x objectives. Combine with inbuilt microscope magnification or optional Magnifying Coupler Unit (MCU) - preserve optical clarity over a range of sample types.

2.0 Megapixel and 22 mm C-mount: Sona 11 (22mm) - All the benefits of the Sona-11 (32 mm) but in a C-mount format for microscopes up to 22 mm field of view

4.2 Megapixel C-mount (Sona-6) - Ideal for applications that will benefit from the smaller 6.5 µm pixel size. Perfectly suited to 40x and 60x magnifications with a combination of sensitivity, speed and resolution. Low noise mode uses correlated multi-sampling to achieve a flat and clean image without affecting frame rate. HDR and High Speed modes enable dynamic events of the cell to be captured with ease.

Vacuum Cooled to -45 °C - The weakest signals require the lowest noise floor: Don’t be limited by camera thermal noise!

The ONLY vacuum back-illuminated sCMOS - Andor's exclusive vacuum technology is not found on any other back-illuminated camera. It protects the sensor from (a) QE degradation, and (b) moisture condensation. Backed up with a 5-year warranty on the sensor chamber.

Anti-Glow Technology (Sona 11) - Allows access to full 4.2 Megapixel array with long exposures often needed for weak signals– maximize field of view and sensitivity advantages.

High speed imaging - Image highly dynamic samples without signal smear - e.g. cell motility, membrane dynamics, ion flux, blood flow (Sona-11: 48 fps and Sona-6: 135 fps).

Extended Dynamic Range mode - Don’t lose part of your image data. 'One snap quantification' across the widest possible signal range (Sona-11: 53,000:1, Sona-6: 26,250:1) - measure challenging samples such as neurons with ease.

> 99.7% linearity - Market leading quantitative accuracy over the whole signal range – have confidence in data in concentration and rates measurements.

Unlock Super-resolution to ~100 nm - Convert your conventional microscope to super-resolution capabilities with our exclusive easy and flexible real-time super resolution (SRRF-Stream+).

User configurable ROI - Adapt to a range of microscope port sizes. Push frame rates and save data storage space.

Fan and Water cooling as standard - Water cooling for maximum sensitivity and highly vibration sensitive set-ups, e.g. super-resolution and electrophysiology

High Speed Interfaces - All Sona models have USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 Gen 1) for a convenient high-speed interface. To push the highest speeds, use coaXPress on the Sona-6 for the fastest possible data transfer rates.

Take control with Python - Integrated python SDK wrapper and documentation for self-build and custom system community

The Sona series has been designed to extract the very best from the latest back-illuminated sensors. Sona features a range of exclusive technologies so you get a camera that can detect more and capture the true dynamics of the cell in greater precision. Some of the key technologies are outlined below:

Permanent Vacuum Technology 

Sona is the only back-illuminated camera with a permanent hermetically sealed sensor enclosure. This exclusive vacuum technology provides the ultimate reliability and maintains the performance of the sensor year after year. Backed up by a 5-year chamber integrity warranty.

Deep Cooling

A further benefit of the vacuum technology is when combined with effective thermoelectric cooling is that precise, stable and flexible cooling is possible. Market leading cooling to -25°C with air cooling, and -45°C with liquid assisted cooling provides the lowest possible thermal noise and thus the lowest noise floor. This allows Sona to operate over a wider range of exposure ranges than other competing sCMOS cameras with less capable cooling. The excellent cooling capacity of Sona minimises dark current and other hot pixels. Sensor temperature can be held stable even when running high frames. The best image quality and detection of the weakest signals can be achieved.

Anti-Glow: Accessing the Entire Sensor Array (Sona-11 32mm)

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. To date, the effect has forced camera manufacturers to either limit the usable region of the sensor to an array size notably smaller than the native 2048 x 2048 full resolution, or alternatively to impose a severe 30 millisecond restriction on the maximum exposure length that is permitted by the camera. Either way this fundamentally restricts performance and usefulness across a range of applications, either through field of view limitation or through sensitivity limitation.​

Andor characterised this sensor issue and developed a unique anti-glow technology to tackle this problem for the Sona-11 camera. The figure below shows a dark image of the GSense 400 back-illuminated sensor with and without Anti-glow technology – the difference it makes is stark. Andor can open up the full 2048 x2048 array, while also greatly extending the exposure time. With the full 32 mm field of view, you get the full benefits of this sensor.

Camera based Super-resolution

Unlock super-resolution from your microscope with Sona and SRRF-Stream+. Sona sCMOS cameras are compatible with our real-time super-resolution technology. Flexible and easy to use, and compatible with normal labelling, SRRF-Stream+ provides a cost-effective way to achieve ~100 nm resolution. Discover how super-resolution may add value to your research at SRRF-Steam | Super Resolution Software - Andor - Oxford Instruments (

Extended Dynamic Range

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 26,250:1 for the Sona-6, and an impressive 53,000:1 in Sona-11. Challenging samples like neurons can be imaged with biologically relevant information in the weaker distal regions and brighter central regions all in a single snap.

Quantitative Accuracy

The primary aim of any detector is to respond accurately and precisely to the signal. The response must be accurate over a range of signal (linearity), and across all pixels over the full sensor (sensor uniformity). The on-camera intelligence of the Sona delivers a significant linearity advantage, providing unparalleled quantitative measurement accuracy of >99.7% across the full dynamic range. This provides confidence in any applications where signal intensity indicates local concentration, e.g. ion flux, FRET and expression analysis. Each camera is carefully configured and optimised to ensure edge-to-edge uniformity. Aside from quantitative measurements it is also relevant to stitched images where uniformity issues would otherwise reveal clear tiled effects.

Correlated Multi-Sampling (Sona-6)

High-Speed Imaging

All Sona camera offer superb high speed imaging capabilities. Each camera is carefully configured so that the noise floor is kept to the minimum to avoid negatively impacting the signal to noise. High speed interfaces such as CoaXPress provide stable high-speed operation.​

Sona-11 series offers up to 48 fps at full 32 mm field of view, and 70 fps in the 22 mm model.

For even greater speeds, Sona-6 offers exceptional performance. In full 16-bit dynamic range up to 74 fps is possible. A new High Speed mode Sona-6 pushes the fastest available speeds from the GS2020BSI sensor up to 135 fps! This stunning speed fully exploits the 2-lane CoaXPress connection of Sona. Need to go even faster? Faster speeds are available through Region of Interest (ROI) selection, scaling only with ROI height, i.e. a full width ROI provides the same frame rate as a reduced with ROI, as long as they share the same number of rows. This can be useful for imaging elongated samples at fast frame rates, such as measuring calcium flux in smooth muscle cells, or blood flow studies.

Hardware Timestamp

The Sona platform can generate a timestamp for each image that is accurate to 25 ns. 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. Areas include signalling cascades, vesicle trafficking, lipid dynamics, synaptic re-modelling, action potential studies using opto-genetics and opto-physiology. Timestamps can also be useful for FRAP Analysis, facilitating the estimation of diffusion rates.

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