Fluorescent microscopy applications pose a number of technical challenges for complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) cameras. Oftentimes, very little light is emitted by the samples, meaning the camera must be able to capture high quality images of fast-moving cellular mechanisms in low light environments for proper analysis.
A CMOS camera incapable of operating properly in this type of environment will lead to poor quality images that prevent further analysis of the sample. It’s critically important to choose the right CMOS camera for fluorescent microscopy, not just because it’s one of the most expensive components, but because it’s vital to the results of the application.
Sensitivity is the Primary Consideration for a CMOS Camera for Fluorescent Microscopy
When choosing a CMOS camera for fluorescent microscopy, the sensitivity of the camera should be the primary consideration. A camera’s sensitivity is essentially a sign of how well it can operate in low light environments.
A sign of high sensitivity is large pixel sizes. Larger photodiodes can capture more photons and create more charge, leading to stronger signals and better imaging quality when only small amounts of light are being emitted. CMOS cameras with low sensitivity will not meet the demands of fluorescent microscopy.
Other Important Factors to Consider
Sensitivity is not the only factor to consider, however. The CMOS camera you choose should have a high quantum efficiency (QE). Basically, QE is a measure of a camera’s efficiency when converting photons to electrons. A CMOS camera with low QE will likely feature high levels of noise, including dark noise and potentially read noise, which degrade image quality. A high QE CMOS camera with low noise levels will capture crisp, clear images.
Further, the frame rate of a CMOS camera is an important consideration. Usually expressed in frames per second (fps), the frame rate describes how many images a camera can capture in one second. Cellular mechanisms work on a very small time scale, and a camera with a high enough frame rate will be needed to accurately capture this information.
CMOS cameras for fluorescent microscopy need to be sensitive with high QE, low noise, and high frame rates in order to produce high quality images for analysis.
When searching for a CMOS camera, look for these qualities to ensure fluorescent microscopy applications produce the intended results.
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