Part of the Oxford Instruments Group

sCMOS Cameras for Physical Science and Astronomy

Andor’s Scientific CMOS (sCMOS) cameras series deliver an advanced set of performance features that render them ideal for high fidelity, quantitative scientific measurements. Providing a wide gamut of application advantages across the physical sciences and astronomy, the multi-megapixel cameras offer a large field of view and high resolution, without compromising noise, dynamic range or frame rate.

NEW Balor – Very Large-Area sCMOS Camera for Astronomy

  • 16.9 Megapixel for large sky surveys
  • 54 fps full frame for fast solar dynamics/fast moving objects/atmospheric freezing
  • Low noise to detect weak signal/small objects
  • Minimal downtime: Vacuum longevity & quality
Request Pricing Learn More about Balor sCMOS

sCMOS for Physical Science Applications

NEOs and Space Debris

A Near-Earth Object (NEO) is any small Solar System body whose orbit brings it into proximity with Earth. As of March 2018, almost 18,000 Near Earth Asteroids have been discovered, of which 887 are larger than 1 km. The inventory is much less complete for smaller objects, which still have potential for large scale damage. While asteroids are constantly being eliminated from our solar system, unfortunately new ones enter it! Thus NEO surveys are required as an ongoing discipline in astronomy.

Orbital Debris, or Space Debris, are terms for the mass of defunct human-made objects in Earth orbit, such as old satellites and spent rocket stages. There are about 500,000 pieces of ‘space junk’ down to items about 0.5 inches (1.27 centimeters) wide in orbit. Of those, about 21,000 objects are larger than 4 inches (10.1 cm) in diameter.

Andor’s NEW Balor very large area sCMOS and Marana back-illuminated sCMOS offer superb solutions for Orbital Debris and NEO tracking cameras – large FoV and high resolution to search more sky, low noise and high QE sensitivity enable high-quality data capture of even relatively small (and dim) objects and rapid frame rates enable temporal oversampling of fast moving objects.

Adaptive Optics in Astronomy (Wavefront Sensing)

Adaptive Optics is an established technique that uses deformable mirrors to provide real time compensation of wavefronts that are distorted by turbulence in the upper atmosphere, thus affording considerable resolution enhancement from ground based telescopes.

Andor sCMOS can be used to address the high speed demands required of wavefront sensing, providing closed loop feedback at several hundred frames per second. Furthermore, Andor’s latest generation sCMOS physical science platform, Marana, is architected to minimize latency in AO set-ups, through transmitting pixel row data for real time analysis as soon as the information is available, thus avoiding the need to first assemble an entire image before it leaves the camera.

Fluid Dynamics using Particle Imaging Velocimetry (PIV)

Particle Imaging Velocimetry (PIV) is an optical method of flow visualization used in research and industry to obtain velocity measurements and related properties in fluids. By taking two closely spaced images or ‘snapshots’ of the species, and using correlation algorithms, it is possible to build up 2D and 3D dynamic flow maps. The key to successful measurements is capturing short pulses of scattered light from the species (or tracers added to it) within a well-controlled timescale on the order of a few 100’s of nanoseconds to a few microseconds typically. 

Generally PIV requires a high sensitivity detector that offers accurate timing schemes in terms of triggering capability.

Andor offers sCMOS solutions for PIV both in our Zyla 5.5 and Neo 5.5 cameras, which offer global shutter snapshot exposure capability. Alternatively, the iStar sCMOS intensified sCMOS camera can be used for PIV, offering enhanced rejection of background photons through use of nanosecond exposure gating, synchronised to the laser pulses.

Dynamic X-Ray Imaging using Zyla HF

The need to acquire multiple images per second is becoming increasingly relevant in the field of X-ray imaging, for example, facilitating faster generation of high resolution 3D reconstructions in X-Ray Tomography or enabling real time imaging of fast processes in Engineered Materials Studies.

Andor offers a solution for fast X-ray imaging in our Zyla-HF [Link to Zyla-HF page] indirect detection camera, facilitating up to 100 fps at 5.5 Megapixel resolution. The outstanding design of Zyla-HF delivers the highest transmission and spatial resolution performance associated with state-of-the-art single fibre optic plate bonding, while also taking advantage of the very fast frame rate, ultra-low noise performance and exceptional field of view of sCMOS technology.

Its compact format, multiple mounting points and modular input configuration for scintillators or Beryllium filter integration allow ease of integration into laboratory setup or integrator (OEM) systems.

Neutron Radiography & Tomography

Neutron imaging has wide industrial and scientific significance and can provide detailed information concerning the inner structure and composition of objects. The principle of neutron imaging is based on the attenuation, through both scattering and absorption, of a directional neutron beam by the matter through which it passes. Since different materials vary in their ability to attenuate neutrons, then both composition and structure can be probed. The technique is also non-destructive in nature, and has been effectively applied to artefacts of archaeological significance.

Traditionally CCD’s have been used as imaging cameras for neutron tomography, however, this presents a limitation for measuring dynamic processes in real time. For the faster framing requirements, or to perform faster 3D tomography (or even 4D: 3D + time), then Andor’s sCMOS portfolio provide wonderful options. The Marana 4.2B-11 back-illuminated sCMOS, with large field of view 32 mm sensor, 95% QE and frame rates up to 48 fps presents an ideal solution.

Cold Atoms and Bose Einstein Condensation

In the past few decades, ultra-cold matter has become a highly dynamic and fascinating field of study. Research around the world is establishing a high level of understanding of the underlying physics for applications, such as inertial guidance systems, atomic clocks, quantum computing and cryptography.

The high and broad QE profile of Andor sCMOS cameras provides excellent coverage of the visible / NIR wavelength range, often needed to image ultracold fermions at wavelengths of 670 nm and above, in both fluorescence and absorption type set-ups. The Marana 4.2B-11 with UV optimization also provides enhanced sensitivity for cold ion studies of magnesium (280 nm) and calcium (397 nm).

Quantum Optics

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. Understanding of quantum entanglement forms the basis of the growing fields of quantum computing and quantum cryptography.

Thanks to their single-photon sensitivity, EMCCDs have been the detectors of choice for many years in experiments involving quantum optics, but sensitive sCMOS cameras have also been successfully used in quantum optics experiments. Indeed, they are expected to become increasingly popular for imaging of qubit states and general validation of basic concepts.

Andor sCMOS cameras can combine large field of view, high speed and high resolution with an image intensifier option, to provide an adaptable solution for experiments involving single entangled photons, atoms or polaritons.

Solar Astronomy

The Sun is the most important celestial object, providing humans with indispensable light and heat, yet we truly know very little about how it works. Solar flares are a regular occurrence whereby magnetic reconnection in the upper solar atmosphere can cause ejection of plasma at over 1,000,000˚C producing the well-known aurorae. However, flares also cause radio blackouts, disrupt flights and satellite communication, and can even knock out electricity supplies on a continental scale.

On the contrary, there have been times where the Sun has not been active. The so-called Maunder Minimum was a period where solar activity seemed to diminish without forewarning. The caused the river Thames to freeze over. Markets were regularly held on the frozen river, while the cold temperatures caused trees to become extremely dense. This wood is the source of all Stradivarius violins!

Such extremes of weather can have a huge impact on mankind. As such, it is vital we attempt to understand the underlying processes behind our nearest star! Andor’s NEW large-format Balor sCMOS camera allows ground-breaking observations of the solar atmosphere with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution. Astronomers will to be able to study the nuances of dynamic events such as magnetic reconnection with stunning accuracy, while also having the large-format capability to view entire flux ropes and sunspots without mosaicking.

sCMOS solutions for all your needs

Andor offers a complete range of sCMOS cameras, spanning a wide envelop of performance attributes. Whether your application requires a large field of view, ultimate sCMOS sensitivity, highest speed capability, high resolution, nanosecond shuttering, X-ray or Neutron detection, or even a compact and light design, you can be confident that we can guide you towards the optimal solution.

Balor sCMOS

Balor sCMOS

Astronomy sCMOS - Very Large FOV, Fast Readout
  • 16.9 MP and 12 µm pixel – Search more sky
  • Measure variability from ms to 10’s seconds
  • Orbital Debris, Solar, Exoplanet, Speckle/Lucky, Asteroids
Specifications Request Pricing
Marana sCMOS

Marana sCMOS

World’s Most Sensitive Back-illuminated sCMOS
  • 4.2 Megapixel and 11 µm pixel – Large FOV
  • 95% QE and -45 °C vacuum cooling
  • Dynamic Astronomy; Fast Spectroscopy; Tomography
Specifications Request Pricing
Zyla 4.2 PLUS

Zyla 4.2 PLUS

Superb Sensitivity and Speed Combined
  • 4.2 Megapixel and 6.5 µm pixel
  • 82% QE and 100 frames per second
  • Quantum Gases; Wavefront Sensor; Fast Spectroscopy
Specifications Request Pricing
Zyla 5.5 sCMOS

Zyla 5.5 sCMOS

Ultimate Price/Performance ‘Workhorse’ sCMOS
  • 5.5 Megapixel and 6.5 µm pixel
  • 64% QE and 0.9 e- read noise
  • Contains Global (snapshot) and Rolling shutter modes
Specifications Request Pricing
Neo 5.5 sCMOS

Neo 5.5 sCMOS

Ultimate Noise Suppression - Access Long Exposures
  • -40 °C vacuum cooling: 0.007 e- darkcurrent
  • Including vibration sensitive set-ups
  • Contains Global (snapshot) and Rolling shutter modes
Specifications Request Pricing
iStar sCMOS

iStar sCMOS

Fast X-Ray
  • < 2ns fast gating and 50 frames per second
  • 5.5 Megapixel & high QE photocathode
  • Plasma, Flow Analysis/Combustion, TR-Fluorescence
Specifications Request Pricing


Nanosecond Gated Imaging/Spectroscopy
  • High-throughput fiber-optic coupling
  • 5.5 Megapixel at 50 frames per second
  • X-Ray/Neutron Tomography, X-Ray Diffraction
Specifications Request Pricing

Ultimate sCMOS Sensitivity

The Marana 4.2B-11 camera contains a back-illuminated sCMOS sensor with up to 95% QE which, coupled with 11 µm pixels, means it is optimized for maximum photon capture, ideal for light starved applications.

Comparative Signal to Noise under low light conditions (10 incident photons per 100 µm2 sensor area) - Under identical low light optical conditions, the Marana 4.2B-11 with back-illumination and large pixel size is well suited to maximizing photon capture and Signal to Noise.

Ultimate sCMOS Field of View

The flagship Balor 17F-12 camera offers the largest field of view sCMOS solution that is commercially available on the market. The huge 70mm sensor diagonal from the 4128 (W) x 4104 (H) array is ideal for demanding ‘dynamic’ astronomy applications such as Orbital Debris tracking and Solar astronomy, capable for example of dynamically imaging entire sunspots at high resolution. It is also ideal for atmospheric freezing techniques (Speckle/Lucky imaging) over a much large field of view than is available from Adaptive Optics.

When absolute maximum sensitivity is required over a large field of view, such as for Near Earth Asteroid detection, the Marana 4.2B back-illuminated sCMOS camera utilizes a unique technology approach to usefully access the entire 2048 x 2048 array, offering an impressive 32 mm sensor diagonal.

sCMOS Solutions for Extended Dynamic Range

Andor sCMOS cameras each offer an Extended Dynamic Range functionality, supported by a 16-bit data range. Harnessing an innovative ‘multi-amplifier’ sensor architecture, we can access the maximum pixel well depth AND the lowest noise simultaneously, ensuring that we can quantify extremely weak and relatively bright signal regions in one snap. In the physical sciences, high dynamic range capability is central to countless measurement types, such as in astronomical photometry.

Model Well Depth (e-) Dynamic Range
Marana 4.2B-11 85,000 53,000:1
Balor 17F-12 80,000 27,586:1
Zyla 4.2 PLUS 30,000 33,000:1
Zyla 5.5 30,000 33,000:1
Neo 5.5 30,000 33,000:1

Measurements taken of a high dynamic range test chart using Marana 4.2B-11 in Extended Dynamic Range Mode, which enables accurate quantification of signal intensities that range from the noise floor detection limit to the full pixel well depth.

Furthermore, to achieve best in class quantification accuracy, Andor have implemented enhanced on-head intelligence to deliver market-leading linearity of > 99.7%.

Model Options

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