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Scientific Imaging Industrial Imaging spectroscopy X-Ray Acton Optics

Astronomical Imaging

Astronomical imaging can be broadly divided into two categories 1) steady state imaging where long exposures are required to capture ultra-low light level objects and 2) time resolved photometry where integration times range from milliseconds to few seconds.  While slow-scan, back-illuminated CCD cameras (a.k.a. science cameras) generally serve steady-state applications well, our newly available EMCCD cameras are enabling newer and faster time-resolved applications, including:

View Our Newest Astronomy Application Notes

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Adaptive Optics

In ideal conditions, the resolution of an optical system should only be limited by the diffraction of the light waves and the diameter of the lens system. However, even the world's best telescopes cannot achieve this due to turbulence in the atmosphere. Adaptive Optics (AO) systems provide a way to compensate for these errors. As a result, images with much better resolution approaching the diffraction limit are now possible.
Adaptive Optics Set-up

AO systems use a fast waveguide sensor for measuring the wavefront error and a feedback system to provide a compensating signal to a deformable optic. The accuracy and the speed of the entire system relies on the sensor's ability to provide fast frame rate at high signal-to-noise ratio. For example, recently developed EMCCD cameras are capable of providing >1000 fps with less than 1 e- rms read noise for this application.  

 Lucky Imaging

EMCCDs are also enabling another technique which is popularly used to improve the optical resolution of telescopes, namely "lucky imaging." As the name suggests, the technique uses a subset of images from a large sequence to reconstruct a sharper, more detailed image of the target. Several papers have recently been published with data revealing more sensitive orders of magnitude using EMCCD cameras in photon counting mode.  

Solutions from Princeton Instruments

Every day, PI imaging cameras are successfully utilized in high-tech telescopes around the world. Whether your application requires slow scan imaging that requires hours of integration or rapid, time-resolved photometry, Princeton Instruments has the right solution.

Product features include:

  • New eXcelon sensor technology for the highest QE over broad UV-NIR region and low etaloning
  • Deep cooled EMCCD cameras for adaptive optics and time resolved photometry
  • PIXIS 2048 with 26.7mm x 26.7mm field of view camera with deep cooling and permanent vacuum guarantee (industry exclusive)
  • High frame rates up to thousands of frames-per-second for adaptive optics
  • Slow-scan, large format CCD cameras for true 16-bit performance
  • Support for real time frame access and Linux operating system


Recommended products:


  • eXcelon back illuminated EMCCDs for lowest etaloning and enhanced sensitivity
  • Deep cooling with lifetime vacuum guarantee
  • Back-illumination and electron multiplication gain for single photon sensitivity
  • Absolute EM gain calibration
  • Ultra-stable bias for long sequences
  • 100kHz slow readout speed in the traditional CCD mode for 3 e- rms read noise
  • Gigabit Ethernet data interface for remote operation over 50m (150 ft)


  • eXcelon back illuminated and deep depletion CCDs for lowest etaloning and enhanced sensitivity
  • Deep cooling with lifetime vacuum guarantee
  • Read noise as low as 2.5 e- rms 
  • UV enhanced back-illuminated CCDs
  • Large 26.7 x 26.7mm field of view CCDs
  • eXcelon Back-illuminated, deep depletion detector for negligible etaloning and high-sensitivity in the NIR (PIXIS: 1300BR_eXcelon)
  • True 16-bit dynamic range to capture both dim and bright areas in the same image

NIRvana: 640

  • 640x512 InGaAs detector with sensitivity from 0.8 µm to 1.7 µm
  • Cooled down to -90ºC for low dark current. Ideal for low-light level NIR fluorescence applications
  • Excellent linearity and stability for quantitative imaging


  • Large format CCDs for wide field of view
  • Read noise as low as 2.5 e- rms
  • Liquid nitrogen cooling for the lowest dark current
  • Best linearity and dynamic range in the industry