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Imaging/Detectors: Scientific Imaging

Photonics Spectra
Jan 2000
Microscopy cameras, image intensifiers and digital x-ray technologies face formidable user demands.

Mark Christenson, Roper Scientific

Five years ago, high-performance charge-coupled device cameras were slow, monolithic and difficult to use. Today, the cameras are significantly faster, often much smaller and almost completely software-controlled. In the coming several years, we expect to see more dramatic changes as the industry continues to exploit the rapid advances in detectors and integrated electronics.

Recently, we have seen the advent of CCD camera systems with more than 1 million pixels -- so-called megapixel cameras. These cameras offer readouts of 10 fps at high resolution, with medium to high sensitivity in a relatively low-cost package. They will continue to become easier to use as firmware and software become more sophisticated, resulting in cameras that program their own settings, determine appropriate exposure times for the scene illumination, correct for pixel defects, and normalize for background and flatness of field.

A "universal" camera for bright-field and fluorescence imaging would serve the needs of most biological microscope users. Because it would require an entirely new CCD, device manufacturers will determine the time-to-market for this camera based on their desire to address the relatively small bioimaging market.

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