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Back-Illuminated CCD, EMCCD Unveiled

Photonics.com
Feb 2010
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 1, 2010 – Princeton Instruments, e2v and Photometrics joined together in the launch of new eXcelon back-illuminated charge-coupled device (CCD) and electron-multiplication CCD (EMCCD) detector technology at the 2010 Photonics West Conference. Princeton Instruments said it will introduce several new cameras based on the technology.

The eXcelon sensors provide photon-detection capabilities from 200  to 1100 nm, and are particularly beneficial for applications requiring enhanced sensitivity in the Blue and NIR region. The eXcelon back-illuminated sensors also reduce etaloning, the problematic appearance of fringes due to constructive and destructive interference in the device’s back-thinned silicon while imaging in the NIR region (750-1100 nm).

Until now, researchers interested in NIR imaging were compelled to use either front- or back-illuminated, deep-depletion CCDs. Each of these device architectures, however, has drawbacks. Front-illuminated sensors, for instance, have 2x to 3x lower sensitivity than their back-illuminated counterparts, while the utility of deep depletion sensors is ultimately hindered by 100x greater dark current. By contrast, eXcelon sensors not only counter etaloning, they also boast ~90 percent peak quantum efficiency and do not increase dark current.

When eXcelon technology is applied to popular EMCCD devices, the result is a detector with sub-electron read noise, superb sensitivity, low dark current, little if any etaloning, and high frame rates.

“The eXcelon sensors are a direct result of listening to the world’s leading researchers in life and physical sciences,” said Don Templeman, president of Princeton Instruments. “The creative team of application scientists and engineers at PI, Photometrics, and e2v have delivered a truly innovative detector technology that is set to advance many optical diagnostic techniques.”

“For a long time, it has been known that etaloning in the near-infrared region is a significant problem in back-illuminated CCDs,” said Brian McAllister, general manager of imaging at e2v. “The solution incorporated in eXcelon sensors came about only after many debates and research trials. We are very pleased that e2v has been able to contribute to yet another key breakthrough in photonic detector technology.”

For more information, visit: www.princetoninstruments.comwww.e2v.com or www.photomet.com


GLOSSARY
back-illuminated ccd
A CCD that has been reduced in thickness by etching so that light passes through the back layers of the CCD. This type of CCD typically has higher sensitivity, especially to blue light, and higher quantum efficiency than front-illuminated CCDs, because the light is not required to pass through the CCD's gate structure.
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