The ImagEM X2 is an extremely versatile camera that quietly delivers 70 frames/s at full frame and up to 1076 frames/s with analog binning and regions of interest. With very high signal to noise in near dark conditions and extremely low dark current, the ImagEM X2 enables quantitative ultra-low light imaging both for long integration times and at high speed. With EM gain off, the extremely deep full well capacity can extract information from the lowest contrast bright images. Additional new features allow for optimized camera triggering, on-board for EM gain protection, streamlined connectivity through IEEE1394b, improved overall signal to noise and increased non-EM dynamic range. Hamamatsu has taken the beloved 512 × 512 EM-CCD sensor and created a masterfully redesigned camera that delivers maximum speed and precision performance.
Hungry for Photons
With large pixels, high QE, and relatively zero readout noise, EM-CCD technology performs in low light conditions. How low light? When you’ve got fewer than 10 photons per pixel between the sample and background, EM-CCDs are the perfect tool for the job, delivering the best SNR of any camera technology. For high mag, biologically relevant applications with routine exposure times of 10 ms to 30 ms, the sample is likely emitting hundreds to thousands of photons per pixel. But with faster speeds come shorter exposure times, risking the ability to capture more than tens of photons per pixel in one shot and therefore pushing the application into the ultra-low light zone. The ImagEM X2 makes these super-fast exposures possible and has the sensitivity to provide visually pleasing and quantitatively meaningful images in a photon-starved environment.
By clocking pixel readout at 22 MHz, the ImagEM X2 is able to achieve 70 frames/s with full frame resolution. That’s more than 2_ the original ImagEM and is faster than any commercially available camera using the sensor.
By selectively imaging at the edge of the sensor, closest to the read register of the chip, it is possible to achieve even greater speeds of small ROIs.
Lower readout noise
In any image sensor, faster readout means increased readout noise. Yet readout noise is considered irrelevant for EM-CCDs because of the EM gain. Remarkably, the ImagEM X2, even before applying EM gain, has faster speed and lower read noise than its predecessor. But didn’t we just say readout noise in EM-CCD was irrelevant? Yes, in SNR equations this is true. However, if the primary purpose of EM gain is to overcome readout noise, then this will be accomplished with less gain in the ImagEM X2 and less voltage in the EM register, translating into theoretically more stable EM gain calibrations and greater sensor longevity.
The ImagEM X2 includes an integrated mechanical shutter in order to protect the camera from EM gain degradation and to lessen afterimage effects. The mechanical shutter is software controlled.
EM gain measurement and calibration
Gain aging is a known and expected process in EM technology. Even when every care is taken to minimize gain aging, use of the camera in EM mode, especially with high gains or high intensity light, can degrade the gain. Since this is a use-dependent phenomenon, it’s important to know when it’s happened and to have the ability to easily recalibrate. These two functions in the ImagEM X2 make this crucial maintenance of the camera software accessible and user friendly.
IEEE 1394b connectivity
The data rates of the ImagEM X2 are well suited to the trusted and easy to use 1394b connectivity.
SMA triggering ports
In its new incarnation, the ImagEM X2 sports four shiny and compact SMA ports, one for input of an external trigger and three for output to other devices. These ports can be used to access an array of triggering options including three additional features: programmable trigger input/output, trigger delay and trigger ready. There is no denying that EM-CCD technology offers the best SNR for ultra-low light imaging, and the ImagEM X2 offers the fastest speeds combined with multiple engineering enhancements to allow you to make the most of this technology.
Direct electron display
Output signal can be indicated in “electrons” instead of pixel AD counts in application software.
Black Clip / White Clip function
It enables setting an upper or lower threshold of intensity. If there is a brighter or darker location than a sample of interest in an image, this function allows clipping the upper limit or lower limit of intensity to make Auto LUT function work effectively.
Cooling status output
The camera indicates when it has reached the target cooling temperature.