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Scientific Cameras: OEM and Manufacturing Capabilities
The scientists and engineers at Thorlabs' Scientific Imaging (TSI) Group in Austin, Texas work in a multidisciplinary environment to develop challenging circuit designs, innovative optical and mechanical solutions, firmware, and host side software in a camera platform that can be used with a variety of imagers. Our unique and diverse skill base gives us the ability to customize low-noise, high-performance scientific cameras and interface devices that fit your needs.
We provide a variety of standard camera offerings as well as cameras customized to almost any need for OEM or system designers. All cameras can be designed for low-light and/or high-speed imaging systems and tailored to meet stringent size, environmental, and packaging requirements. A full-featured and well-documented API, included with our cameras, makes it convenient to develop fully customized applications in an efficient manner, while also providing the ability to migrate through our product line without having to rewrite an application. Our sCMOS, CMOS, CCD, and fast frame rate cameras have been deployed in numerous applications as shown in the photos above and the list below.
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Camera Housings of Our Compact Scientifc and Scientific CCD Cameras
Camera Selection Overview
Thorlabs offers four families of scientific cameras: Zelux™, Kiralux™, Quantalux®, and Scientific CCD. Zelux cameras are designed for general-purpose imaging and provide high imaging performance while maintaining a small footprint. Kiralux cameras have CMOS sensors in compact, passively cooled housings and are available with monochrome, color, NIR-enhanced, or polarization-sensitive sensors. The polarization-sensitive Kiralux camera incorporates an integrated micropolarizer array that, when used with our ThorCam™ software package, captures images that illustrate degree of linear polarization, azimuth, and intensity at the pixel level. Our Quantalux monochrome sCMOS camera features high dynamic range combined with extremely low read noise for low light applications; it is housed in the same compact, passively cooled housing as our Kiralux cameras. Scientific CCD cameras are available with a variety of features, including versions optimized for operation at UV, visible, or NIR wavelengths; fast-frame-rate cameras; TE-cooled or non-cooled housings; and versions with the sensor face plate removed. The tables below provide a summary of our camera offerings.
*µManager control of Zelux and 1.3 MP Kiralux cameras is not currently supported. When controlling the Kiralux Polarization-Sensitive Camera using µManager, only intensity images can be taken; the ThorCam software is required to produce images with polarization information.
Scientific Camera Applications
Select a Topic
The video to the right is an example of a multispectral image acquisition using a liquid crystal tunable filter (LCTF) in front of a monochrome camera. With a sample slide exposed to broadband light, the LCTF passes narrow bands of light that are transmitted from the sample. The monochromatic images are captured using a monochrome scientific camera, resulting in a datacube – a stack of spectrally separated two-dimensional images which can be used for quantitative analysis, such as finding ratios or thresholds and spectral unmixing.
In the example shown, a mature capsella bursa-pastoris embryo, also known as Shepherd's-Purse, is rapidly scanned across the 420 nm - 730 nm wavelength range using Thorlabs' KURIOS-WB1 Liquid Crystal Tunable Filter. The images are captured using our 1501M-GE Scientific Camera, which is connected, with the liquid crystal filter, to a Cerna® Series Microscope. The overall system magnification is 10X. The final stacked/recovered image is shown below.
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Final Stacked/Recovered Image
Thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot within a blood vessel that will impede the flow of blood in the circulatory system. The videos below are from experimental studies on the large-vessel thrombosis in Mice performed by Dr. Brian Cooley at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Three lasers (532 nm, 594 nm, and 650 nm) were expanded and then focused on a microsurgical field of an exposed surgical site in an anesthenized mouse. A custom 1.4 Megapixel Camera with integrated filter wheel were attached to a Leica Microscope to capture the low-light fluorescence emitted from the surgical site. See the videos below with their associated descriptions for further infromation.
In the video above, a gentle 30-second electrolytic injury is generated on the surface of a carotid artery in an atherogenic mouse (ApoE-null on a high-fat, “Western” diet), using a 100-micron-diameter iron wire (creating a free-radical injury). The site (arrowhead) and the vessel are imaged by time-lapse fluorescence-capture, low-light camera over 60 minutes (timer is shown in upper left corner – hours:minutes:seconds). Platelets were labeled with a green fluorophore (rhodamine 6G) and anti-fibrin antibodies with a red fluorophore (Alexa-647) and injected prior to electrolytic injury to identify the development of platelets and fibrin in the developing thrombus. Flow is from left to right; the artery is approximately 500 microns in diameter (bar at lower right, 350 microns).
Reference: Cooley BC. In vivo fluorescence imaging of large-vessel thrombosis in mice. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 31, 1351-1356, 2011. All animal studies were done under protocols approved by the Medical College of Wisconsin Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
OEM or Custom Cameras for Your Application
Thorlabs Scientific Imaging makes it easy to get the camera that you need for a specific application. Along with the large selection of standard scientific cameras, we also offer customized and OEM products. This includes high-performance cameras, board-level cameras, custom camera housings, or software. If you have special requirements, a custom application, or general questions about our capabilities, please contact us; we will work with you to get the product you need for your application.
Customizing a scientific camera can be done from scratch or by using one of our existing standard cameras as a starting point. TSI simplifies this process by using the two-step process below. Small changes made to our existing stock, such as private labeling, timing circuitry within the electronics, or mechanical changes, can be quickly and easily done using these steps. When designing a custom camera from scratch, we will help walk you through everything detailed below. The process is simplified to help you match the camera to the specific needs of your application. We also offer Kanban options for OEM customers.
Common Fluorophore Emission Wavelengths Overlaid with QE Curves for our 1.4 Megapixel CCD Cameras
Step 1: Analyze your Custom or OEM Requirements
Step 2: Work with TSI to Configure a Solution
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API/SDK for Software Developers
Our Expertise in the Photonics and Imaging Industry
Thorlabs is a leading photonics company that develops and manufactures a broad portfolio of technologies ranging from optical components to advanced imaging systems. We develop and manuafacture most of our components at our extensive high-tech fabrication facilities. The facilities include manufacturing capabilities for motion control products, optoelectronics, semiconductors, optical fiber, optomechanics, optics, and optical coatings. Components that directly support our scientific camera line are filters and filter wheels, objective and scan lenses, zoom lenses, telecentric lenses, mounting adapters, LEDs, microscopy components and stages, and rigid cage systems.
A Message from TSI's General Manager
As a researcher and system designer, you are accustomed to solving difficult problems but may be frustrated by the inadequacy of the available instrumentation and tools. The product development team at Thorlabs Scientific Imaging is continually looking for new challenges to push the boundaries of Scientific Cameras using various sensor technologies. We welcome your input in order to leverage our team of senior research and development engineers to help meet your advanced imaging needs.
Thorlabs' purpose is to support advances in research and development through our product offerings. Your input will help us steer the direction of our scientific camera product line to support these advances. If you have a challenging application that requires a more advanced scientific camera than is currently available, I would be excited to hear from you.