Since the 1980s, Hamamatsu Photonics has been designing low-noise, high-sensitivity cameras with the help of its exclusive camera design technology. The company has always played a key role in the development of sophisticated technological and scientific studies.

Hamamatsu has now launched the ORCA-Quest that delivers exceptional performance. The C15550-20UP is the first camera in the world to integrate the qCMOS image sensor and can resolve the number of photoelectrons using a recently designed specialized technology. The ORCA-Quest camera enables excellent quantitative imaging.

Four key features

1. Extreme low-noise performance

To identify high signal-to-noise and weak light, the ORCA-Quest camera has been developed and improved to each aspect of the sensor, right from its structure to its electronics. The latest CMOS technology has been used to develop both the camera and the custom-made sensor, resulting in a very low noise performance of 0.27 electrons.

ORCA-Quest qCMOS Camera

Image Credit: Hamamatsu Photonics Europe

2. Realization of photon number resolving (PNR) output

Light is essentially a collection of a number of photons. The photons are transformed into electrons on the sensor and such electrons are known as photoelectrons. Using the technique, called 'Photon number resolving,*' light can be accurately measured by counting photoelectrons.

To count these photoelectrons, camera noise should be adequately less than the amount of photoelectron signal. Although standard sCMOS cameras can achieve a small readout noise, it is still higher when compared to the photoelectron signal, which makes it hard to count the photoelectrons.

With the sophisticated camera technology, the ORCA-Quest not only counts photoelectrons but also delivers a very low readout noise of 0.27 electrons RMS (at ultra-quiet scan). It also ensures stability across time and temperature, enables individual calibration and allows real-time correction of every pixel value.

ORCA-Quest qCMOS Camera

Image Credit: Hamamatsu Photonics Europe

*Photon number resolving is exclusive and quite different from photon counting (to be more precise, this technique resolves the number of photoelectrons. But since single-photon counting rather than single photoelectron counting has been utilized for a similar technique in this domain, the term 'photon number resolving' will be used).

The ultimate in quantitative imaging by ORCA-Quest qCMOS camera

Video Credit: Hamamatsu Photonics Europe

3. Back-illuminated structure and high resolution

High QE is very crucial for the highly efficient detection of photons and this is realized through a back-illuminated structure. In the case of traditional back-illuminated sensors, crosstalks take place between pixels because pixels are not separated and resolutions are generally inferior to those of front-illuminated sensors.

ORCA-Quest qCMOS Camera

Image Credit: Hamamatsu Photonics Europe

The sensor integrated into the ORCA-Quest qCMOS® camera has a back-illuminated structure to achieve high quantum efficiency and the trench structure in one-by-one pixel for decreasing crosstalk.

4. Realization of a large number of pixels and high-speed readout

Generally, photon counting (PC)-level images have been obtained through an electron multiplication camera, for example, an EM-CCD camera with around 0.3 megapixels. But the ORCA-Quest camera can obtain both PC-level images and photon number resolving images with 9.4 megapixels.

However, it is unreasonable to compare the camera readout speeds with different numbers of pixels by frame rate. In such cases, the pixel rate (number of pixels × frame rate), which refers to the number of pixels read out per second, is utilized.

To date, the EM-CCD camera is the world’s fastest camera that is capable of SPC readout with approximately 27 megapixels per second; however, the ORCA-Quest camera allows photon number resolving imaging at around 47 megapixels per second, which is virtually twice as fast.

ORCA-Quest qCMOS Camera

Image Credit: Hamamatsu Photonics Europe

Software support

In current scientific studies, it is very important to have a superior digital camera to achieve the most optimal results. And nowadays, cameras provide a wide range of features, like correction functions, many readout modes, relatively higher readout speeds and an increasing number of pixels.

With this increasing wealth of functionality, good software becomes more and more significant for day-to-day work.

Camera simulation lab

Whenever a camera is used for research or industrial applications, it is crucial to choose a camera by considering numerous conditions. These conditions include the light intensity and wavelength of the object to be recorded.

Hamamatsu now provides the 'Camera simulation lab,' a tool that enables users to intuitively compare the variations in imaging outcomes caused by camera performance while verifying the replicated images.

ORCA-Quest qCMOS Camera

Image Credit: Hamamatsu Photonics Europe

Applications

Quantum technology

Neutral atom, ion trap

Neutral atoms and ions can both be considered as the supposed qubits because they can assume a superposition state where even a solo atom has numerous characteristics. These characteristics are intensely being researched to obtain quantum simulation and quantum computing.

By visualizing the fluorescence of confined neutral atoms and ions, users can determine the state of the qubit and can use a low-noise camera to read out the fluorescence.

Simulation image (Rb atom@780 nm/number of atoms: 5 × 5 array/atomic emission: 2000 photons/background: 5 photons/magnification: 20 × (NA: 0.4)/distance between each atom: 5 μm).

Simulation image (Rb atom@780 nm/number of atoms: 5 × 5 array/atomic emission: 2000 photons/background: 5 photons/magnification: 20 × (NA: 0.4)/distance between each atom: 5 μm). Image Credit: Hamamatsu Photonics Europe

Astronomy

Lucky imaging

When observing stars from the ground, air turbulence can blur the picture of the star and can thus considerably decrease the potential to record distinct images. But with the right atmospheric conditions and short exposures, users can occasionally capture vivid images.

Due to this reason, lucky imaging is a technique in which a huge number of images are obtained and only the clearest images are incorporated while aligning them.

Orion Nebula (Color image with 3 wavelength filters).

Orion Nebula (Color image with 3 wavelength filters). Image Credit: Hamamatsu Photonics Europe

Raman spectroscopy

Raman effect refers to the scattering of light at a wavelength that is different from that of incident light. Raman spectroscopy is a method used for determining the properties of a material by quantifying this wavelength. Raman spectroscopy allows molecular-level structural studies, which offer data about crystallinity, chemical bonding and much more.

ORCA-Quest qCMOS Camera

Image Credit: Hamamatsu Photonics Europe

ORCA-Quest qCMOS Camera

Image Credit: Hamamatsu Photonics Europe

Delayed fluorescence in plants

Plants discharge a very small part of the light energy which they absorb for photosynthesis over a duration of time. Such a phenomenon is called delayed fluorescence. By identifying this feeble light, the effects of pathogens, the environment, chemicals and other stressors on plants can be observed.

Delayed fluorescence of ornamental plants (exposure for 10 seconds after 10 seconds of excitation light quenching).

Delayed fluorescence of ornamental plants (exposure for 10 seconds after 10 seconds of excitation light quenching). Image Credit: Hamamatsu Photonics Europe

Special sites

The scientific camera section denotes the feature section for digital cameras that are appropriate for industry and life science research fields.

PC recommendation

With the release of the ORCA-Quest camera, users are now able to stream 9.4-megapixel pictures to their PCs at 120 frames per second. The PC recommendations for this high data rate can be met by utilizing the guidelines mentioned in the PC Recommendations for the ORCA-Quest camera.

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