Products: SOPHIA Ultra-Low Noise CCD Cameras

image of SOPHIA Ultra-Low Noise CCD Cameras

Next-Generation, Ultra-Low-Noise CCD Cameras

Princeton Instruments is pleased to present SOPHIA®, our most advanced line of ultra-low-noise scientific cameras yet. SOPHIA integrates precisely engineered ultra-low-noise electronics, state-of-the-art software, and proprietary new ArcTec thermoelectric cooling technology. ArcTec utilizes extensive computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis, an all-metal hermetic vacuum design, and custom-developed Peltier devices to achieve unprecedented cooling performance and reliability. The speed and sensitivity of the SOPHIA series make these cameras ideal for low-light-level research applications as diverse as photometry, chemiluminescence, astronomy, in vivo small animal imaging, and spectroscopy.

In order to facilitate soft x-ray detection, the SOPHIA-XO model uses no antireflective coatings and employs an open-nose design.

Key features of SOPHIA cameras include the following:

  • ArcTec technology cools sensor below -90°C without chillers or cryocoolers
  • Permanent vacuum guarantee
  • 2048 x 2048 back-illuminated CCDs deliver >95% peak QE
  • Patented eXcelon technology -low fringing and enhanced
    sensitivity over broad wavelength range
  • Up to 16 MHz readout rate with up to 4-port simultaneous readout
  • New, ultra-low-noise readout electronics with ultra-stable bias
  • High-speed USB 3.0 data interface with optional fiberoptic
    connection for remote operation
  • Compatible with IsoPlane and SpectraPro spectrometers
  • Fully supported by 64-bit LightField software


As the most advanced ultra-low-noise camera platform developed to date by Princeton Instruments, the SOPHIA series provides an unprecedented combination of sensitivity, speed, and flexibility. Using the latest USB 3.0 data interface and multi-port readout capabilities up to 16 MHz, SOPHIA increases frame rates by as much as 4x while delivering the low noise typically attributed to slow-scan detectors.

Learn more about the SOPHIA-XO soft x-ray cameras.

SOPHIA CCD cameras

“Over the past 35 years, Princeton Instruments has produced iconic cameras, spectrometers, and software — advanced scientific tools utilized by leading researchers and Nobel laureates around the world. SOPHIA extends this lineage of innovation. With ArcTec cooling technology, brand-new readout electronics, and a USB 3.0 interface all integrated via our acclaimed LightField software, we believe no other scientific-grade low-light detector can match SOPHIA’s performance and ease of use.”
- Ravi Guntupalli, VP Sales & Marketing, Princeton Instruments

SOPHIA’s 30.7 mm x 30.7 mm (2k x 2k) photosensitive array utilizes 15 µm x 15 µm pixels to detect 23% more photons than comparable back-illuminated sensors with 13.5 µm x 13.5 µm pixels. Not only do SOPHIA cameras detect more photons, they keep the noise of each pixel low. New ArcTec cooling technology minimizes dark noise by deeply cooling the CCD without the need for bulky chillers or cryocoolers; eXcelon sensor technology broadens sensitivity over a wider wavelength range and reduces unwanted fringes in the near-infrared region, further improving signal-to-noise ratio.

ArcTec cooling technology:
  • An all-metal, hermetically sealed vacuum design is utilized… guaranteed for life!
  • No epoxies are used. Even the vacuum window is brazed to the walls of the vacuum chamber. Therefore, there is no outgassing or long-term degradation such as that caused by the epoxies used in inferior designs.
  • A custom heat sink design is utilized to ensure efficient thermal dissipation from the sensor and electronics.
  • Options are available that cool with air only, liquid only (for vibration-sensitive environments), or a combination thereof!


Ultra-low-noise design:
  • ~4 e- rms read noise
  • Short electrical paths between the sensor, critical driver, and digitization modules
  • Fully optimized digital designs for the best CCD operation at any readout mode or setting


Ultra-stable design:
  • Ideal for extended ‘staring’ applications as well as ‘kinetic’ experiments
  • Guaranteed ultra-stable reference bias regardless of operating mode via use of reference pixels (Bias Active Stability Engine, or BASE)
  • Sensor temperature actively stabilized to ±0.1°C
  • Matched quadrant readout ports


Ultra-flexible performance:
  • Multiple readout modes (4-port, 2-port, or 1-port readout; custom sensor readout; kinetic readout) for capturing even ultrafast events
  • Complete triggering support
  • Independently optimized clocking for each combination
  • Field-replaceable internal mechanical shutter
  • Standard Nikon® F-mount or spectroscopy mount (or Varian Associates ConFlat® designs for SOPHIA-XO)


High-speed USB 3.0 data interface:
  • High data rates (up to 5 Gb/sec)
  • Easy plug-and-play interface
  • Camera operation from laptops or desktops (requires USB 3.0 port)
  • Optional fiberoptic data connection for remote operation from up to 50 m (hazardous environments, etc.)


LightField imaging and spectroscopy software:
  • A powerful, intuitive user interface provides complete control of PI cameras and spectrographs.
  • A built-in math engine enables the analysis of image and spectral data in real-time.
  • A universal programming interface, 64-bit PICAM, is included for easy custom programming.
  • Seamless integration of hardware controls and direct data acquisition into National Instruments' LabVIEW®, MathWorks' MATLAB®, and EPICS synchrotron control software is easy.
  • Patented IntelliCal automated wavelength and intensity calibration is fully supported.
LightField software




SOPHIA CCD and X-Ray Cameras model comparison and datasheets

Imaging Models Imaging Array Sensor Type Pixel Size Peak QE
SOPHIA 2048Bdatasheet pdf 2048 x 2048 Back-illuminated 15.0 x 15.0 µm view QE data below
SOPHIA 2048BXdatasheet pdf 2048 x 2048 Back-illuminated with eXcelon 15.0 x 15.0 µm view QE data below
SOPHIA-XO 2048datasheet pdf 2048 x 2048 Back-illuminated 15.0 x 15.0 µm view QE data below


Quantum Efficiency Curves for SOPHIA 2048B and 2048BX

QE for SOPHIA CCD cameras

NOTE: Graph shows typical Quantum Efficiency (QE) data measured at - 25°C. QE decreases at normal operating temperatures. For the best results for your application, please discuss the specific parameters of your experiment with your sales representative.


Quantum Efficiency Curves for SOPHIA-XO 2048


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.

Bose-Einstein Condensate
Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) can be regarded as matter made from matter waves. It is formed when a gas composed of a certain kind of particles, referred to as “bosonic” particles, is cooled very close to absolute zero.


Astronomy Brochure
Our state-of-the-art cameras, spectrometers, optics, and coatings are utilized at leading observatories around the world, providing the most innovative technologies to meet the very latest challenges.

Tech Notes

The Art and Science of Being Cool
An Introduction to ArcTec - the Newest Generation of Scientific Camera Cooling Technologies



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!

SpectraPro Spectrometers

SpectraPro Spectrometers

High value, dependable industry standard series of spectrographs and monochromators for a variety of applications.

eXcelon CCD and EMCCD Technology

eXcelon CCD and EMCCD Technology

Patented CCD and EMCCD sensor technology provides the best fringe suppression and broadest sensitivity in the market

ThermoCUBE Chiller

ThermoCUBE Chiller

Compact liquid chiller ideal for vibration-free, thermally stable environments

SOPHIA-XO Soft X-Ray Cameras

SOPHIA-XO Soft X-Ray Cameras

High-sensitivity, high-speed, thermoelectrically-cooled X-ray camera for wide range direct detection.

Princeton Instruments