Insights from industry

Advanced Cooled VIS-SWIR Camera for Industrial Imaging and Astronomy


 
In this interview, Mark Donaghy from Raptor Photonics talks to AZoOptics about Ninox, their new cooled VIS-SWIR InGaAs camera. With the latest sensor technology and TEC or water cooling to -20°C, the Ninox is an attractive proposition for many advanced imaging applications.

Could you tell us about the main features of the Ninox?

The Ninox 640 is a cooled VIS-SWIR InGaAs camera. The 640 x 512 sensor has 15µm x 15µm pixel pitch which enables highest resolution VIS-SWIR image. The readout noise is less than 50 electrons (typically 40e-) which enables highest VIS-SWIR detection limit.

It is cooled to -25°C which enables low dark current for longer exposures which is helpful for stacked images. It offers ultra high intrascene dynamic range - 70dB. Which enables simultaneous capture of bright and dark portions of a scene. It has an on-board Automated Gain Control (AGC) in order to optimise the image quality. It also features an on-board intelligent 3 point NUC (non uniform correction) which enables highest quality images

Ninox 640 offers the best VIS-SWIR sensitivity up to 1700nm on the market today

"Ninox 640 offers the best VIS-SWIR sensitivity up to 1700nm on the market today

How does the Ninox compliment the rest of Raptor’s product line?

Raptor has introduced a range of SWIR and VIS-SWIR cameras over the past few years using a variety of sensors offering different resolutions and performance. Introducing a cooled version of the VIS-SWIR has opened up new opportunities for us and we think we offer the best range of SWIR and VIS-SWIR cameras available on the market today.

What are the benefits of cooling the camera to -20°C?

The main benefit with cooling is that it enables longer exposure times without a build-up of dark current. Couple that to a high quality InGaAs sensor / ROIC (readout integrated chip) and it offers the best VIS-SWIR sensitivity up to 1700nm on the market today.

Do the practical considerations of cooling to such low temperatures limit the range of applications of the Ninox?

No, not at all. The camera offers both air cooled and water cooled options.

What benefits will users see with the Ninox compared to competing cameras?

Based on some preliminary customer test data, the Ninox at -20°C is about three orders of magnitude better than the Owl 320 at -15°C.

There are some cooled InGaAs cameras on the market which are using liquid nitrogen (LN2) or deep thermoelectric cooling to cool the sensor down to -100°C. We are getting similar performance at -25°C because we are using the best and latest SWIR sensor technology. Other companies use older types of ROIC which have higher noise and dark current.

The core of the Trapezium cluster in the Orion nebulae, observed in the astronomical H band (1.625μm) with the Ninox 640.

The core of the Trapezium cluster in the Orion nebulae, observed in the astronomical H band (1.625μm) with the Ninox 640. Image courtesy of Dr. Lyu Abe, Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur.

What triggered the development of the Ninox – was it a specific customer requirement, or just a natural progression in technology?

We were asked to develop this camera by one of our OEM customers. The standard commercial version of the product has already seen a lot of interest since its recent launch, so we think there is going to be a lot of demand for this camera.

How has the response to the Ninox been so far from your customers?

We have had some terrific feedback already from a few astronomers. They are amazed at the sensitivity and performance of the Ninox compared to other SWIR cameras.

As well as astronomy, what other applications that customers are using the Ninox for?

There are many applications for the Ninox including Industrial, Hyperspectral Imaging, Microscopy, Semiconductor Inspection, Solar Cell Inspection, Telecommunications and Thermography.

How do you see this technology developing in the future? Are there any further capabilities you have in the timeline that you can tell us about?

There are opportunities for higher resolution devices and possibly longer wavelengths. We are very reactive to customer demand and what is happening in the marker with new sensor technology.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

Will Soutter

Written by

Will Soutter

Will has a B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Durham, and a M.Sc. in Green Chemistry from the University of York. Naturally, Will is our resident Chemistry expert but, a love of science and the internet makes Will the all-rounder of the team. In his spare time Will likes to play the drums, cook and brew cider.

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