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Detector Choices:

Photonics Spectra
May 1998
Considering the Tradeoffs

Jennifer L. Morey, Associate News Editor

Whether they need to image faraway stars, microscopic organisms or bottles on an assembly line, users of imaging systems face many choices: What type of light will work best? How does color play a role? Where should I position the camera? In addition to those factors, imaging professionals need to consider the foundation of the imaging system: the imaging detector.
The task of choosing among the many types of detectors can seem like a daunting task to the uninitiated. When faced with a detector choice, users also must weigh many options: whether they need to look at a single spot or an entire image at a time, whether speed is more important than low noise, and whether the benefits of a high-end product are worth the high cost.
These considerations depend heavily on the demands of the application. In astronomy applications, for example, the user will be very concerned with a detector's sensitivity ­ the number of charges an exposure generates ­ because the low light level requires an extended exposure time. In microscopy applications, however, the user generally needs small pixels so that the number of pixels - or resolution - of the detector matches that of the microscope. The user will have to trade off some degree of sensitivity, but in this case, sensitivity is not as important as pixel size.


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