The new INFINITY3S-1UR Microscopy Camera is the newest in the Lumenera INFINITY3 series of cameras. By incorporating a new sensor, it vastly improves dynamic range, quantum efficiency and sensitivity. It fills an important niche to link fluorescence and low-light level measurements in one camera. The new INFINITY3S-1UR camera has features from both traditional fluorescence and low-light cameras, making it a superior instrument in the field— especially for fluorescence biological studies.

What do a sensor’s fill factor, dynamic range, and quantum efficiency have to do with it?

To pick out a new camera, you need to understand a bit about the most important (and expensive) part of the camera: the sensor. The camera sensor gathers light and transforms it into an image. Sensor power comes from its ability to collect and integrate photons over much longer time periods than the human eye. To understand the sensor fully, you have to know about the principles behind it.

The sensor is made up of a grid of photosites, or pixels. Photodiodes connected to each photosite generate electrons (and current) when struck by a photon. These electrons are stored in a potential well. The full-well capacity is the number of electrons that can be stored in that well. There are three key factors for the sensor power that you’ll want to maximize:

  • Fill factor: The ratio of photodiode area to total photosite area, which helps determine how much light gets converted to current. The effective fill factor can be increased through the use of microlenses to 100%.
  • Dynamic range: The range of brightness from black to white where the camera can capture detail in both the faint and bright areas in the scene. The dynamic range is proportional to the full well capacity of the photodiode. The lowest signal, referred to as the noise floor or dark noise, is the noise level when the sensor is not exposed to light. A sensor with a lower noise floor improves the dynamic range and picks up details in weakly illuminated areas.
  • Quantum efficiency: The number of photons that strike the sensor and generate a signal by the sensor (not every photon will do both). A quantum efficiency of 70% means that seven out of ten photons creates a signal.

A superior camera would have a sensor with high full well capacity and fill factor, large dynamic range, and high quantum efficiency. Luckily, the new Lumenera microscopy camera, INFINITY3S-1UR, with the new Sony sensor ICX825ALA/AQA, fits the bill.

Out with the Old and In with the New Lumenera INFINITY3S-1URM

Two images, one recorded with the standard INFINITY3-1URM with the ICX285 sensor (left side) and the other with the new INFINITY3S-1URM with the ICX825 sensor (right side) are shown in the figure below. You can see the marked improved performance of the new camera. The image is brighter, sharper, and clearer when taken with the new Lumenera INFINITY3S-1URM camera.

INF3-1URM - 40X - 120-80-120 - Sample G   INF3S-1URM - 40X - 120-80-120 - Sample G
Figure 1. Images taken by the INFINITY3-1URM and the INFINITY3S-1URM Microscopy Cameras. BPAE cells were stained with Dapi, MitoTracker Red, and Alexa Fluor 488. Images were taken using the Olympus BX51 microscope and were taken consecutively. Right, the image taken with the INFINITYINFINITY3-1URM camera. Left, The same image taken with the new INFINITY3S-1URM camera.

 

The secret behind the improved performance of the INFINITY3S-1URM is the sensor. This new sensor, made by Sony, has the coveted “EXview HAD CCD II” technology, which increases quantum efficiency and full well capacity to improve dynamic range. Moreover, the technology enhances light efficiency by including the near infrared region.
The newly developed high-speed CCD sensors include ICX825ALA (black and white) and ICX825AQA (primary color filter). The table below shows the improvements over the traditional, popular ICX285:

Sensor/CharacteristicsICX825ALA/AQAICX285
Total number of pixels1.55M1.50M
Horizontal driving frequency (MHz)
5428.64
Package (pin)
28 (Plastic DIP)20 (Ceramic DIP)
Sensitivity (mV)
2000 (F8.0)
2000 (G signal, F5.6)
1300 (F8.0)
1240 (G signal, F5.6)
Saturation signal (mV)
1300850
Smear (dB)
-115 (F8+F5.6)-110 (F8+F5.6)
Frame rate (1 channel)
25*15

*2-channels option (dual-tap design), with 45 frame rate at normal clock rate.

The new sensor: improves sensitivity (by 70%), smear (by 5 dB), quantum efficiency (by 7dB, at 850nm), and dynamic range (by 6 dB) all while maintaining the same resolution, pixel size, and optical format.

The Many Applications of the INFINITY3S-1UR Lumenera Camera

For many standard fluorescence applications where very long exposures are not required, this camera provides astonishing low-noise results. Additionally, the INFINITY3S-1UR can operate in live video mode or only capture images. When using for a live preview, it is operating in video mode to provide a fast refresh rate. The user can take a snapshot at any point with the lowest noise possible. While the published frame rate by Sony for the ICX825 CCD sensor is 45 fps, Lumenera has designed the camera to support a maximum frame rate of 60 fps over a reliable USB 3.0 interface without sacrificing image quality.

The new INFINITY3S-1UR camera is a smart pick for a new microscopy camera. With this new sensor, high performance output, the latest USB 3.0 plug and play interface, and Windows- and Mac-compatible software, it will quickly becoming the microscopy system of choice by scientists.

Learn more about the new INFINITY3S-1UR Lumenera camera here.