Products: KURO sCMOS Cameras

image of KURO sCMOS Cameras


Breakthrough, Back-illuminated Scientific CMOS Cameras

Princeton Instruments is pleased to introduce its KURO, the world’s first scientific CMOS camera system to implement back-illuminated sensor technology. Until now, this key technology had been leveraged almost exclusively by CCD camera systems, which despite their excellent sensitivity are unable to match CMOS frame rates. Front-illuminated CMOS cameras, meanwhile, cannot meet the high-sensitivity requirements of today’s ultra-low-light scientific imaging and spectroscopy applications. The KURO camera, however, delivers both the fast frame rates and the exceptional sensitivity needed for applications such as hyperspectral imaging, astronomy, cold-atom imaging, quantum imaging, fluorescence spectroscopy, and high-speed spectroscopy, all whilst eliminating the drawbacks commonly associated with front-illuminated scientific CMOS cameras.

View the webinar "Introduction to Back Illuminated sCMOS Cameras

KURO sCMOS camera systems include the following key features:

  • Back-illuminated sCMOS detector with >95% peak QE
  • Reduced fixed-pattern noise
  • High speed and low read noise
  • No microlenses on pixels
  • Large pixels and wide dynamic range
  • Flexible trigger modes
  • Optimized for spectroscopy
  • Powerful 64-bit LightField software


Thanks to its back-illuminated scientific CMOS (sCMOS) sensor architecture, the new KURO provides >95% quantum efficiency and 100% fill factor. Furthermore, this next-generation sCMOS camera significantly reduces the fixed-pattern noise seen in front-illuminated sCMOS cameras and eliminates the need for the performance-limiting microlenses they often require. The lack of microlenses lets the unique KURO detect light from the UV to the NIR without a reduction in quantum efficiency. Scientists and engineers will benefit from the KURO:1200B camera’s ultra-low-level read noise (1.3 e- rms median), high frame rates (82 fps at full 1200 x 1200 resolution), and flexible off-chip (software) binning capabilities. The 11 µm2 pixel pitch of the new detector captures 2.8x more photons than other sCMOS sensors and handles a full well of 80,000 electrons, allowing excellent dynamic range (61,500:1 or 95 dB).


Images captured by KURO: 1200B back illuminated sCMOS camera. Star cluster (left), Orion Nebula. Courtesy of Southwest Research Institute, Colorado USA


Back-illuminated sCMOS detector with >95% peak QE

The KURO features a back-illuminated sensor architecture just like that of the most sensitive CCD detectors available. The back-illuminated technology utilized by the KURO allows this next-generation sCMOS camera system to deliver >95% quantum efficiency (QE) and 100% fill factor.

Reduced fixed-pattern noise

The KURO uses the latest sCMOS fabrication technology along with optimized electronics. As a result, it has a significantly better noise profile than any previous-generation, front-illuminated sCMOS camera.


No microlenses on pixels

Unlike front-illuminated sCMOS cameras, which claim ~80% peak QE, the KURO does not use microlenses to recapture light from the masked area of the pixel. Microlenses significantly degrade QE when light is incident at any angle other than normal to the sensor surface.


High speed and low read noise?

The KURO offers very high frame rates, up to 41 fps (16 bit) or 82 fps (12 bit) at full 1200 x 1200 resolution with an exceptionally low 1.3 e- rms (median) read noise. The camera is capable of delivering hundreds of frames per second with reduced resolution.


Large pixels and wide dynamic range
The 11 µm2 pixel pitch of the KURO sensor captures 2.8x more photons than previous-generation sCMOS sensors. Each pixel can also handle a large full well of 80,000 electrons, allowing excellent dynamic range (61,500:1 or 95 dB).
Which Sensor Technology?

Scientists and engineers should carefully consider which sensor technology is best suited to their application. In general, for imaging or spectroscopy applications that require extended integration times (seconds to hours), CCD or EMCCD cameras are still preferred. This is also true for spectroscopy applications that require on-chip binning. Meanwhile, for time-resolved applications that require ultrafast gating, intensified cameras (ICCD or emICCD) are the best choice. Back-illuminated sCMOS cameras provide the sensitivity and frame rates needed for all other applications with relatively short integration times (less than 10 seconds). Table 3 summarizes several key features of these sensor technologies and offers some general recommendations for different applications.


Optimized for spectroscopy
Scientific CMOS sensors typically do not support on-chip binning. However, the KURO camera’s low read noise and support of software binning (off-chip binning) make it ideal for high-speed spectroscopy applications. Furthermore, the pixel pitch of its sensor is a perfect match for optimal use with the award-winning, aberration-free IsoPlane® spectrometer from Princeton Instruments.


Powered by LightField software
Designed for operation within the Princeton Instruments LightField software ecosystem, the KURO is easy to control and can be integrated quickly in myriad imaging and spectroscopy experiments. Camera integration for use with both MATLAB® (MathWorks) and LabVIEW® (National Instruments) is also fast and simple.


SOPHIA CCD Cameras model comparison and datasheets

Imaging Models Imaging Array Sensor Type Pixel Size Peak QE
KURO 1200Bdatasheet pdf 1200 x 1200 Back-illuminated scientific CMOS 11.0 x 11.0 µm view QE data below




Fluorescence, Phosphorescence, and Photoluminescence Spectroscopy
Fluorescence, phosphorescence and photoluminescence occur when a sample is excited by absorbing photons and then emits them with a decay time that is characteristic of the sample environment.

Astronomical Imaging
Astronomical imaging can be broadly divided into two categories: (1) steady-state imaging, in which long exposures are required to capture ultra-low-light-level objects, and (2) time-resolved photometry, in which integration times range from milliseconds to a few seconds.

Tech Notes

New Scientific CMOS Cameras with Back-Illuminated Technology
Aided by the latest CMOS fabrication technology, sCMOS devices can finally be created with a back-illuminated sensor architecture. As a result, sCMOS sensors are now capable of CCD-like quantum efficiency (>95%) and dynamic range without compromising the low read noise and high frame rates for which they are known.



ProEM EMCCD Cameras

ProEM EMCCD Cameras

EMCCD cameras for ultra-low light, read noise-limited applications.

IsoPlane Imaging Spectrographs

IsoPlane Imaging Spectrographs

Award-winning imaging spectrographs with superior performance over Czerny-Turner traditional designs, available with 203 mm and 320 mm focal length designs.

LightField Scientific Imaging & Spectroscopy Software

LightField Scientific Imaging & Spectroscopy Software

Ground breaking software to control your Princeton Instruments systems. Now with Windows 10 support. It's like nothing you have ever experienced!



The reference standard of ICCD cameras. Single photon sensitivity and ultra-fast, <500psec gating



Compact liquid circulator for deep-cooled cameras for efficient cooling.

SOPHIA Ultra-Low Noise CCD Cameras

SOPHIA Ultra-Low Noise CCD Cameras

Sophia ultra-low noise cameras for the most demanding low-light applications from astronomy to x-ray.

Princeton Instruments