iXon EMCCD Camera Series

With the iXon EMCCD cameras, Andor have delivered a dedicated, truly high-end, yet accessible ultrasensitive scientific camera platform, designed specifically to drive the absolute best from EMCCD technology across all critical performance specs and parameters.

Model Active Pixels Cooling Pixel Size Frame Rate Read Noise Buy it Now...
iXon Ultra 897
512 x 512
-100
16 x 16
56
< 1
iXon Ultra 888
1024 x 1024
-95 °C
13
26
< 1
iXon3 860
128 x 128
-100
24 x 24
513
< 1


iXon Ultra and iXon3 EMCCD Camera Series

Driving the Absolute Best from EMCCD Camera Technology

iXon Brochure

Andor’s iXon design ensures the absolute highest sensitivity from a quantitative scientific digital camera, particularly under fast frame rate conditions. The NEW iXon Ultra 888 camera has raised the bar considerably, accelerating frame rates to up to 3x faster, the data stream transmitted through a convenient plug and play USB 3.0 interface.

Andor’s proven UltraVac™ vacuum technology, carrying a 7 year warranty, is critical to ensure both deep cooling and complete protection of the sensor. The iXon series are designed to be the most flexible yet easy to use EMCCD camera on the market, optimizable for a wide variety of application requirements in a single click via the new OptAcquire™ feature. Furthermore, signal can be quantitatively calibrated in units of electrons or photons, either real time or post-processing. Patented, pioneering technology offers automated recalibration of the linear EM gain scale, alongside anti-ageing protection.

Crucially, the iXon EMCCD camera brand carries an outstanding reputation for product quality and reliability, brandishing an unparalleled track record of minimal field failures.


Features Benefits
Fastest Frame Rates Available iXon Ultra delivers up to 3x faster frame rates than closest competitors.
Crop Mode Specialized acquisition mode for continuous imaging with fastest possible frame rate from ROI. ‘Optically Centred’ in iXon Ultra, ideal for super-resolution microscopy (e.g. 697 fps from 128 x 128 ROI).
EX2 Technology Extended QE response, beyond standard back-illuminated.
Market leading TE cooling to -100 °C Critical for elimination of darkcurrent detection limit.
Fringe Suppression Technology Reduced etaloning in NIR.
OptAcquire™ Optimize the highly flexible iXon for different application requirements at the click of a button.
Count Convert Quantitatively capture and view data in electrons or incident photons. Applied either in real time or post-processing, Count Convert does this important conversion for you.
RealGain™ Absolute EMCCD gain selectable directly from a linear and quantitative scale.
EMCAL™ Patented user-initiated self-recalibration of EM Gain.
Superior EM Quantitative Stability and Baseline Clamp Essential for quantitative accuracy of dynamic measurements, effective even with new iXon Ultra 17MHz readout speed.
Minimal Clock-Induced Charge Unique pixel clocking parameters, yielding minimized spurious noise floor.
UltraVac™ Critical for sustained vacuum integrity and to maintain unequalled cooling and QE performance, year after year. 7 year vacuum warranty.
Spurious Noise Filter Intelligent algorithms to filter clock induced charge events from the background. Real time or post-processing.
iCam Unique innovation that empowers the iXon to operate with market-leading acquisition efficiency through 3rd party live cell microscopy software.
Enhanced Photon Counting Modes Intuitive single photon counting modes to overcome multiplicative noise. Real time or post-processing.
'2 in 1' flexibility (897 and 888 model types) EMCCD for ultra-sensitivity at speed, conventional CCD for longer acquisitions. CCD mode now with ultra-low 3 e- noise
Direct Data Access (iXon Ultra) Unique Camera Link output port to facilitate direct access to raw data for on the fly processing, ideal for applications such as adaptive optics.
USB (iXon Ultra) USB 3.0 (888 model) and USB 2.0 (897 model) offer universally convenient interface to PC.
Advanced Features

OptAcquire™

Thermoelectric Cooling

The control architecture of the iXon is extremely flexible, meaning the camera can be optimized for a wide variety of quantitative experimental requirements, ranging from single photon counting through to slower scan, 16-bit dynamic range measurements. However, we are starkly aware that optimizing EMCCD technology is far from trivial, with various control parameters trading off between camera performance characteristics. As such, we have developed OptAcquire™, a unique interface whereby a user can choose from a pre-determined list of nine camera set-up configurations. The user need only choose how they would like their camera to be optimized, e.g. for ‘Sensitivity & Speed’, ‘Dynamic Range & Speed’, ‘Time Lapse’. Parameters such as EM gain, vertical shift speed, vertical clock amplitude, pre-amp sensitivity and horizontal readout speed will then be optimized accordingly, ‘behind the scenes’. Furthermore, the option exists for the user to define their own additional configurations to add to the list.

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Count Convert

iXon offers the capability to quantitatively capture and present data in units of electrons or photons, this important conversion applied either in real time or as a post-conversion step.

The standard way to present quantitative data in scientific detectors has been in units of ‘counts’, relating to the digitized steps of the Analogue to Digital Converter (ADC) used in the camera. Each Analogue to Digital Units (ADU) step relates to a precise number of ‘photo-electrons’ which were generated originally from photons striking and being captured by the detector pixel.

In the iXon, this conversion factor is very accurately recorded within the camera. Knowing this value, alongside the EM gain (RealGain™) and baseline (bias) offset, facilitates back calculation from the signal in ADU counts per pixel to the signal in electrons per pixel. Furthermore, knowledge of the Quantum Efficiency (QE) and light throughput properties of the camera at each wavelength enables this process to be taken a step further, allowing the signal to be estimated in photons incident at each pixel, provided the spectral spread of the signal is not too broad.

Count Convert

The Count Convert functionality of the iXon provides the flexibility to acquire data in either electrons or incident photons, with negligible slow down in display rate. Furthermore, the option exists to record the original data in counts and perform this important conversion to either electrons or photons as a post-conversion step, while retaining the original data.

  • Quantify data in electrons or incident photons
  • Convenient estimate of sample signal intensity at the detector
  • Real time or post-convert
  • Reference between different samples, users and set-ups
  • Meaningful signal relating to PALM/STORM localization accuracy

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Spurious Noise Filter

Spurious Noise Filter

Low light imaging before and after application of the iXon Spurious Noise Filter – spurious events (photons or remaining CIC) are identified and filtered from background.

While the iXon EMCCD range offers the lowest CIC and darkcurrent background noise on the market, it can still be desirable to have the optionally filter the remaining events to give as ‘black’ a background as possible, eradicating any remaining such ‘salt and pepper’ noise. It is important to utilize noise selection and filter algorithms that are intelligent enough to accomplish this task without impacting the integrity of the signal itself. This is realized through the new Spurious Noise Filter (SNF) functionality of iXon, which offers the user a choice of advanced algorithms to try.

SNF can be applied either in real time or as a post-processing step. The latter option holds the distinct benefit that the raw untreated data is preserved, such that a judgment can be made as to whether a particular algorithm has been effective in selectively identifying and removing spurious background events within a data set.

N.B. Use of SNF is absolutely NOT recommended for single photon counting experiments

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Crop Mode (including Optically Centred Crop Mode)

Through this acquisition mode, significant increases in frame rate are accomplished by “fooling” the sensor into thinking it smaller than it actually is. In standard sub-array/ ROI readout mode, each frame still carries the time overhead to readout all pixels to the left and right of the selected area and to vertically shift all pixels above and below the selected area. The charge from these pixels is then dumped before an image is sent from camera to PC. In cropped sensor mode, the number of pixel readout steps outside of that required to readout out the requested sub-array is significantly reduced, resulting in markedly higher frame rates.

However, this mode requires that light is not allowed to fall onto the area of the sensor outside of the defined active sub-area. In optical microscopy, this can be realized in conjunction with the new OptoMask accessory, which inserts easily between the microscope output and the camera. Using the OptoMask, a sub-array can be readily defined through positioning of the masking blades, and a cropped area matched to this in software.

The iXon Ultra now comes with ‘Optically Centered Crop Mode’, which gives the user the option to break away from the corner tethered requirement of standard crop mode and select a number of pre-defined ROIs that are located in the center of the image field. This is achieved with only minimal sacrifice in achievable frame rate, for example a 128 x 128 optically Centered ROI delivering 697 fps (iXon Ultra 888). Optically centering of the ROI makes this mode extremely appealing to a number of microscopy techniques, including ‘pointillism’ live cell super-resolution microscopy. For example, the camera can be operated in full resolution at a frame rate suited to generation of fixed cell super-resolved images, then Optically Centered Crop Mode can be invoked with a ROI for generation of super-resolved live cell images, showing dynamic events.

‘Standard’ Region of Interest (ROI)
Binning 256x256 128x128 64x64 512x96 512x32 512x1
1x1 110 212 397 277 704 2857
2x2 210 394 699 503 1136 -
4x4 384 680 1099 840 1613 -
‘Cropped Mode’ Region of Interest (ROI) – Optically Centred Crop Mode in brackets
Binning 256x256 128x128 64x64 512x96 512x32 512x1
1x1 111 (174) 595 (569) 1433 (1492) 296 857 11074
2x2 215 (329) 1085 (1014) 2432 (2329) 570 1589 -
4x4 402 (594) 1802 (1662) 3577 (3237) 1050 2682 -

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Real Gain™

Linear - In response to considerable demand from our customers, Andor have set about a detailed analysis of the EM voltage dependence, and have successfully converted the relationship between EM gain and the EM software setting into a linear one.

Real - Importantly, the true EM gain (i.e. the absolute signal multiplication factor) is selected directly from the linear gain scale. No more guesswork with arbitrary gain units across a non-linear scale - the gain you ask for is the gain you get. Select the best gain to overcome noise and maximize dynamic range.

Temperature Compensated - Although EM gain is temperature dependent, Andor's real/linear gain calibration extends to any EMCCD cooling temperature. Selecting x300 gain software setting @ -50ºC, or at -100ºC gives the same x300 true EM gain. Importantly, this means that there is no need to recalibrate EM Gain on each use in multi-user laboratories and facilities.

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EMCAL™ & EMCCD Longevity

It has been observed that EMCCD sensors, more notably in cameras that incorporate L3Vision sensors from E2V, are susceptible to EM gain fall-off over a period of time.

It is important to note that the ageing effect applies to any EMCCD camera, by any manufacturer, that incorporates these L3Vision sensors. As such, at time of writing, any camera on the market that offers back-illuminated EMCCD technology will be subject to a gain ageing effect which has bearings on the long term quantitative reproducibility of data. If left unchecked, this ageing phenomenon has the potential to significantly compromise the long-term quantitative reliability of EMCCD cameras. Fortunately, if these highly sensitive sensors are used with due care and attention, ageing can be minimized and should not present any real problem to the user.

An E2V technical note has been written on this phenomenon, entitled: ‘An Overview of the Ageing Characteristics of L3Vision™ Sensors’. This can be downloaded from the E2V website.

Andor have developed a unique and patented method of user-initiated EM gain self-recalibration. Even after exercising due care during usage and availing of the above internal restrictions, the EM gain may deplete over an extended period of time. The EMCAL™ self-recalibration process is very easily initiated by the user. At the touch of a button, a routine is triggered that measures EM gain and uses the iXon in-built temperature compensated linear gain scales to reset the EM gain calibration (if required), to deliver the true values requested on the software scale. EMCAL™ aims to markedly prolonged operational lifetime and quantitative reliability of the technology, and circumvent the need to return to the factory for recalibration.

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Enhanced Photon Counting Modes

Offering extremely low clock induced charge and darkcurrent specifications, iXon X3 897 and 888 models are the most effective EMCCD cameras on the market for single photon counting acquisition. Single photon counting offers the advantage that the multiplicative noise associated with the EM amplificaon process is overcome, resulting in a factor 1.41x (SQRT 2) improvement to the signal to noise ratio (SNR).

The iXon EMCCD offers intuitive photon counting modes, either as a real time acquisition or as a post-processing step. OptAcquire™ can be used to first optimize the camera for photon counting acquisition.

As a post-processing analysis, the user holds the flexibility to ‘trial and error’ photon count a pre-recorded kinetic series, trading-off temporal resolution vs SNR by choosing how many images should contribute to each photon counted accumulated image. For example, a series of 1000 images could be broken down into groups of 20 photon counted images, yielding 50 time points. If it transpires that better SNR is required, the original dataset could be re-treated using groups of 50 photon counted images, yielding 20 time points.

Photon Counting

Post-process’ Photon Counting offers the ability to switch between high SNR or high temporal resolution without loosing original data.

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Real Time Signal Averaging

New recursive averaging and frame averaging functions for improved signal to noise ratio, which can be applied in real time with minimal impact on image display rate. Recursive filter produces a running average, each output frame consisting of an average of existing and some previous images, as per the following equation:

Iout(n) = Iout(n-1) + [Vin(n) – Vout(n-1)] / F

Iin(n) = Latest image in series
Iout(n-1) = Previous output image
Iout(n) = Current recursive averaged output image
F = Averaging factor

Recursive averaging can produce an improved signal to noise in the image whilst maintaining the native frame rate. However, recursive filtering is not recommended for following highly dynamic events, since smearing within the image is likely.

The Frame Average filter improves signal to noise by yielding an arithmetic mean output image for every ‘F’ number of images input, as per the following equation:

Iout = [Iin(1) + ... + Iin(F)] / F

Iin(1) = 1st input image of series
Iin (F) = last input image in series
Iout = Frame Averaged output image
F = Number of images included in average series

This will also reduce the perceived effective frame rate by a factor of ‘F’. Frame Averaging is suited to dynamic events that can be temporally sampled by a ‘camera frame rate’ divided by ‘F’ rate of image output. However, if events occur faster than this, resulting in imaging smearing, either reduce the value of ‘F’ or deactivate completely.

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Options and Accessories


Windows for cameras:

The standard window has been selected to satisfy most applications. However, other options are available. The alternative camera window code must be specified at time of ordering.

To view and select other window options please refer to the Camera Windows Supplementary Specification Sheet which gives the transmission characteristics, product codes and procedure for entering the order. Further detailed information on the windows can be found in the Technical note – ‘Camera Windows: Optimizing for Different Spectral Regions’.


The following accessories are available:

OPTOMASK Optomask microscopy accessory, used to mask unwanted sensor area during Crop Mode acquisition. 
XW-RECR Re-circulator for enhanced cooling performance.
ACC-XW-CHIL-160 Oasis 160 Ultra compact chiller unit.
OA-CNAF C-mount to Nikon F-mount adapter.
OA-COFM C-mount to Olympus adapter.
OA-CTOT C-mount to T-mount adapter.

Multimedia Library
Application Images (16)
Application Movies (9)
Product Photos (6)
Learning Center
Publications Database
Imaging potassium-flux through individual electropores in droplet interface bilayers
First Demonstration of Imaging Cosmic Muons in a Two-Phase Liquid Argon TPC using an EMCCD Camera and a THGEM
The EHD protein Past1 controls postsynaptic membrane elaboration and synaptic function
Natural Loss of Mps1 Kinase in Nematodes Uncovers a Role for Polo-like Kinase 1 in Spindle Checkpoint Initiation
Oxygen Depletion Speeds and Simplifies Diffusion in HeLa Cells
Receptor–Ligand Interactions: Binding Affinities Studied by Single‐Molecule and Super‐Resolution Microscopy on Intact Cells
Primary cilia enhance kisspeptin receptor signaling on gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons
Bessel beam plane illumination microscope
Methods for Assessing the Electromechanical Integration of Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocyte Grafts
All-optical electrophysiology in mammalian neurons using engineered microbial rhodopsins
Optical stimulation enables paced electrophysiological studies in embryonic hearts
Point spread function optimization for STORM using adaptive optics
Ultrafast imaging of free carriers: controlled excitation with chirped ultrafast laser Bessel beams
Click chemistry for the conservation of cellular structures and fluorescent proteins: ClickOx
Single spin stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy
Controllable electrofusion of lipid vesicles: initiation and analysis of reactions within biomimetic containers
Angle sensing in magnetotaxis of Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1
Heterogeneous Intracellular Trafficking Dynamics of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Complexes in the Neuronal Soma Revealed by Single Quantum Dot …
Andor Mosaic 3: Multilevel Modulation of a Sensory Motor Circuit during Sleep and Arousal
Optimising the signal-to-noise ratio in measurement of photon pairs with detector arrays