How can an inexpensive NeutronOptics Camera compete, and what more do you need ?
All cameras are supplied with software & high efficiency x-ray or neutron scintillators.

Choice of CCD/CMOS & Lens for Different Applications

Our cameras have two main uses; tomographic imaging and in-beam sample alignment. Cameras for tomography use large cooled CCDs with big lenses, while alignment cameras are simpler. We use the same scintillators, mirrors and lenses as for the most expensive cameras, but reduce costs with fixed geometry, laser-cut welded aluminium boxes and high volume Sony CCDs. Others use high frame rates and mega-pixel chips designed for optical imaging, but these have disadvantages for neutron imaging in a radiation environment.

Given these criteria, we offer a large choice of CCD cameras that can be divided into 3 types. Our 752x580 or 1392x1040 pixel slim CCD and compact f/1.0 CS-mount lens (left) is designed for fast imaging with our small cameras. It has the same efficiency as our old video CCD, but with 16-bit output. At the other extreme, our 4008x2672 pixel full-frame 35mm CCD and Nikkor f/1.2 F-mount lens (right) is designed for high resolution imaging.
In between, we offer Sony CCDs of up to 1" with appropriate 1" C-mount lenses (center).

250x200mm X-ray or Neutron Tomography Cameras

Our latest camera has exceptionally low noise, high resolution and fast readout over large areas. We use the 1 inch Sony ICX694ALG EXview HAD CCD II to give a resolution of 2750x2200 pixels over an area of 250x200mm (90 µm resolution). Dark current is virtually eliminated by thermo-electric cooling by -35C, and readout noise is low. The total noise count in 300s with the cooled CCD is only ~1c/s/pixel (~300 counts in up to 65,536), resulting in excellent dynamic range. The front section can be swapped in-situ for a different Field-of-View (FOV), and different neutron and x-ray scintillators. (Manual)

 

  • Sensor: 1" Sony EXview HAD CCD II
  • Optics: High resolution f/1.4 1" lens
  • Resolution: 2750 x 2200 pixels
  • High sensitivity: (QE~75%), low smear
  • Dark current: 0.002 e/pix/s @-10 °C
  • Cooling: Regulated Peltier ΔT = -35°C
  • Digital Output: 16-bit 65536 levels
  • Readout Speed: 6-12 MPixels/s
  • Binning and Region-of-Interest
  • External Trigger: GPIO synchronisation
  • SDK: C++, VB, .net, ImageJ, LabView
An image with light, shows that mm paper can be resolved to ~90 µ over 250x200mm with the 2759x2200 pixel CCD. The resolution with neutrons will be less, and depend on beam collimation, scintillator thickness etc.
Here is a test image on a 100 kW Triga reactor, and on a laboratory x-ray source.

A half-size version of this camera using the same components gives a x4 increase in efficiency, which is useful for low flux sources and/or high frame rates. Or the camera box can be enlarged for our big 500x400mm camera or even our bigger 500x400mm camera using a full-frame 36x24mm detector chip.

For tomography, a precision sample turntable is needed to rotate the sample in increments of eg 0.5 degree between images. The Newport Micro-Controle URS turntables start at ~€2500, and integrate with our camera software using the SMC100PP motor controller.

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The compact 75x50 mm neutron or x-ray camera

Our simplest camera is at the other extreme of our range. It uses our slim USB CCD, which requires only the supplied 10m amplified USB cable for power and data acquisition. Camera efficiency is proportional to the area of the CCD divided by the imaging area, so the compact camera with it's 1/2" CCD is also very efficient, with high resolution. Without cooling, it is designed for short exposures, especially for beam and sample alignment. A slim version of this camera can be made only 44mm thick.
  • Sensor Type: Sony EXView ICX829ALA or ICX825ALA
  • Image size: Diagonal 8 mm (1/2") or 11 mm (2/3")
  • Resolution: 752x580 or 1392x1040 pixels
  • Pixel Size: 8.6 x 8.3 µM or 6.45 x 6.45 µM
  • Binning: 2x2 to 8x8 (improved intensity & read-out )
  • High Efficiency: (QE>75% at 500-600nm), low smear
  • Low dark current: (<0.1 e.s ambient), anti-blooming
  • Full Well Capacity: >50,000 electrons (dynamic range)
  • ADC: 16 bit grey scale, optional filtering and distortion
  • Maximum Exposure Length: Unlimited
  • Readout Noise: 10 e- typical value (0ºC)
  • Readout Time: Typically 0.2 sec for full frame via USB2
  • Interface: USB 2.0 High Speed with 10-20m USB cables
  • Power: USB powered, No cooling
  • CCD Unit: 32mm diameter, 72mm height, 50g weight
  • SDK: C++, VB Wrapper, .net Wrapper, ImageJ, LabView
For details, see the Compact Camera manual

High Resolution Macro Imaging Cameras

With ideas from Kardjilov, we have constructed an inexpensive 1:1 macro imaging camera designed to use the latest Gd2O2S:Tb high resolution neutron scintillators from RC-TriTec, or YAG:Ce single crystal x-ray scintillators from CRYTUR. Up to 16 lp/mm can be obtained with high efficiency using columnar CsI scintillators. The photo shows the macro camera with our VS60 CCD unit. With a large f=100mm f/2.8 F-mount macro lens, the FOV is equal to the size of the CCD, and a 50µ grid can be imaged with 4.5µ CCD pixels to a resolution of <10µ, depending on the scintillator and collimation.

The FOV can be doubled with a 100mm extension, for a FOV=25x20mm with the 1" Sony ICX694ALG CCD, with a resolution of ~9µ on the 50µ grid.

The camera is shown with a carbon fibre x-ray window, which unscrews to change the scintillator; thin aluminium windows are used for neutrons. The C-mount adapter can be unscrewed to take Nikon F-mount cameras up to 35mm full frame. Fine focus locking can be provided by an optional thumbscrew mechanism, with an option for remote focussing, using a manual control box or a USB connection.

Click the photo to enlarge it. For details, see the Macro Camera manual.

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As an improvement to our 1:1 macro camera using a 100mm f/2.8 lens, we can propose a Tandem Macro option, using a 35mm f/1.2 imaging lens in front of the 100mm lens. Here we use a tiny uncooled IMX249 CMOS detector with 5.86µ pixels, and both lenses are focussed to infinity to give with our 50µ wire grid a x3 magnified 3:1 macro image with <2µ pixels
x2 brighter than with our normal 1:1 macro camera.

We can use other tandem macro imaging lenses of different focal lengths depending on the required magnification and intensity. For example, a pair of Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 tandem lenses is x8 brighter than our normal macro camera, with the same 1:1 resolution. Maximising intensity is important when thin scintillators are used for the highest resolution. (Williams et al. and our Rodenstock camera).

Tandem macro lenses are claimed by PCO to be competitive in efficiency to fibre-optic bundles bonded directly to the chip, combining high efficiency with high resolution.>

1-CCD Laue backscattering crystal alignment camera

We have developed various Laue crystal alignment cameras for x-rays, and similar cameras can be used with a neutron beam. They allow rapid crystal alignment, and can also be used for hands-on teaching of crystallography. A finely collimated white beam produces a number of "Bragg spots" from a single crystal, and by measuring the positions of these spots the crystal orientation can be determined. Greater precision is obtained with backscattering, but the intensities are weaker, especially for x-rays because of the scattering "form-factor".


This inexpensive Sony 1" CCD backscattering camera is designed to replace the old Polaroid Laue camera, and has similar performance. A 1mm collimator traversing the camera directs the beam through a small hole in a mirror and out through the front carbon fibre window. The backscattered diffraction pattern from a single crystal 30 mm in front of the window is captured on a scintillator behind the window, and this pattern is reflected by the mirror to the lens-coupled CCD on top. The 1mm inner collimator can be simply pulled out to obtain courser 2mm collimation. A Si backscattered Laue pattern was obtained by Dr Dean Hudek at Brown University, and a Sm2Fe17 pattern was obtained by Dr Léopold Diop and Prof W. Donner at the Technische Universität Darmstadt in only 2 minutes (click to enlarge).
For details, see the 1-CCD Laue camera manual

The mini-iCam 36 mm neutron or x-ray camera

The mini i-Cam is our smallest (and cheapest) x-ray or neutron camera, and uses the slim CCD. It is intended for the alignment of small beams and samples, for example, behind our backscattering Laue camera. It is powered by the USB2 data cable, so is very simple to set up and use.

The i-Cam is only ~190mm long and has 580 or 1040 pixel resolution over an area of 35mm diameter, so with its efficient f/1.0 lens it is also very bright. The scintillator and carbon fibre window can be exchanged, depending on whether x-rays or neutrons are to be imaged. With the 580x752 pixel CCD (8.6µ pixels) a 300µ grid can be imaged over a 35mm diameter to a pixel resolution of 50µ (detail). The resolution can be increased (20µ pixels) with the 1392x1040 pixel CCD (28x20mm FOV) but the real resolution will depend on the scintillator.

The mini-iCam can also be supplied without the mirror but with a Pb-glass plate to protect the CCD. The in-beam length is then only ~160mm for an image of 30mm diameter through the carbon fibre window. Details may differ slightly from the photo opposite.

The slim 100x50 mm neutron or x-ray camera

Our popular slim camera is only 44mm thick for a sensitive area of 100x50mm in a 120x120mm box, using our slim USB CCD. It can fit into the small space between the sample environment and the beam stop, and no power is required except for a single 10m USB2 cable for image acquisition. With such a compact camera, a correction may be required for slight barrel distortion.

A larger 100x60mm FOV can be obtained with a 55mm thick box, or a smaller, brighter 75x50mm FOV can be provided with our compact camera. A longer version can also be supplied to eliminate slight barrel distortion.

If required, the digital CCD can be replaced by a video CCD for real-time imaging.

The thin carbon fibre windows used for the x-ray version (left) are much stronger than mylar or aluminium foil, yet are >70% transparent, even for CuKα X-rays (8 KeV).

A choice of x-ray scintillator is available with a thinner scintillator for higher resolution (~100µ) and a thicker scintillator for higher efficiency, especially for harder x-rays, yet still good resolution (~150µ). Top of the page
Click the photo to enlarge it. For details, see the Compact Camera manual

Sony IMX249, IMX428 and IMX432 CMOS Cameras

NeutronOptics x-ray or neutron cameras can be supplied with an optional IMX249 CMOS Camera when high frame rates are required (up to 41 fps). Electrically cooled versions of the Sony 11.2x7.0 mm 1392x1040 pixel IMX249 and 14.4x9.9 mm 3200x2200 pixel IMX428 CMOS cameras are also available.

The IMX249 is a slower frame-rate version of the IMX174, and currently the best Sony CMOS detector for low-light imaging. It is a relatively large sensor, with big pixels favouring light capture, with high Quantum Efficiency (QE) The USB3 camera is powered by a 5m USB cable, and the GigE version by a powered GigE cable. Note the cooling fins added to the camera to limit temperature (and dark current), and the carbon fibre x-ray window.

  • Sensor Type: Sony Pregius CMOS IMX249
  • Image size: Diagonal 13 mm (Type 1/1.2")
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1200
  • Pixel Size: 5.86 x 5.86 µm
  • Binning: on-chip binning not available with CMOS
  • High sensitivity: (QE~80% at 500-600nm)
  • High dark current: (~10 e/s ambient)
  • Full well capacity: >30,000 electrons (dynamic range)
  • ADC: 16 bit grey scale, optional filtering and distortion
  • Readout Noise: ~7 e- (low readout noise)
  • Readout Time: ~0.025s (up to 41 fps frame rates)*
  • Interface: USB 3.1 High Speed with 5m USB cable
                     or PoE GigE ethernet for long distances
  • Power: power over USB (or Ethernet)
  • Maximum Exposure Length: 4s USB3, 30s GigE
  • SDK: FLIR (Pt Grey) FlyCapture and Spinnaker C++ SDK
Click the photo to enlarge it. For details, see the FLIR Camera manual

* Very high frame rates (41 fps) are only possible with short USB3 cables (5.0m).
But rates of 9 fps can be obtained even with 10+ metre amplified USB2 extension cables.

The improved 100x100mm and 125x125mm cameras

Our new 100x100mm V4. camera is an improvement on the earlier version. In a 165x127x77mm aluminium box it is significantly thinner than our old 100mm camera. It is shown here with our standard slim CCD, but can also be supplied with higher resolution CCDs.

A larger 125x125mm version can be supplied in a 222x146x105mm aluminium box. Again optional high resolution, cooled CCDs can be used.

Other simple custom cameras can be supplied in larger aluminium boxes, such as our 150x120mm camera in a 195x230x100mm box, or our 200x150mm and 250x200mm cameras, but for serious imaging one of our advanced L-shaped cameras with a high resolution cooled CCD is preferable.

Of special interest is our simple 200x100mm camera designed for checking the uniformity of neutron beams transmitted by guides. It is housed in a 250x250mm aluminium box only 75mm thick. The FOV can be increased to 200x125mm using a 100mm thick box (photo below - click to enlarge).
Click the photo to enlarge it. For details, see the Compact Camera manual

Want to use your own CCD or a custom camera ?

If you already have a CCD unit we can build a camera box for it to your own specifications, with or without scintillators and lenses. Our custom laser cut and welded aluminium boxes with B4C light-tight baffles and aluminium screws can be provided with a choice of front-end path lengths to suit the size of your CCD and the focal length of your lens. You simply bolt your CCD to the end of the main box, and swap front-ends and/or lenses to change your Field-of-View and resolution.

For example, a 110x100mm Field-of-View was required with the smallest possible high-resolution camera embedded in shielding behind a pressure cell on the ISIS pulsed source.

We designed a camera using an uncooled 1392x1040 pixel Sony ICX825ALA CCD in a compact housing. Full-frame readout is only 0.5s and multiple exposures can be stacked in real-time to build up an image of the sample in a strongly absorbing environment.

Tell us your specific requirement and we will build a camera to satisfy it.

(Click on the photos to enlarge them).

CYCLOPS - 16-CCD 360-degree Neutron Laue Camera

CYCLOPS is a very fast neutron Laue camera constructed for ILL Grenoble according to an ILL "Millenium Program" proposal. It consists of 16 image-intensified Peltier-cooled CCDs scanning an octagonal scintillator to cover almost complete 4π scattering in real time. Total readout time is only ~1 sec for the complete 7680x2400 array of 170µ pixels as an 8, 12 or 16-bit TIF image. A complete diffraction pattern can be obtained in only a few seconds, making it possible to follow changes in crystal structure as a function of temperature, pressure or magnetic field. Here is a short streaming video illustrating the astonishing power of such a machine, even if at present it is located on a low-flux guide with a 107.n.cm-2.sec-1 white thermal beam.

All these cameras use a white neutron beam, and will work on either reactor or spallation neutron sources. For further details of their application and availability, please contact Alan.Hewat@NeutronOptics.com.
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