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Phantom TMX series by Vision Research creates new generation of high-speed cameras

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Phantom TMX launches new era of FAST backside illumination


 

With increased speeds comes the need for increased light. The backside illuminated sensor found in the Phantom TMX cameras address this issue by locating the metal parts of a traditional sensor that interfere with incident light to the photodiode to the back of the sensor. Backside illumination also provides increased processing efficiency, which allows cameras to maintain their high throughput levels even as frame rates increase.

The TMX cameras also offer a FAST mode for increased frame rates. By expanding on its internationally recognised range of Phantom cameras with the TMX camera series Vision Research deliver groundbreaking ultra highspeed imaging. Designed with a backside illuminated custom CMOS sensor the TMX series produce clear, high quality images at speeds not previously possible.

 

Backside Illuminated Sensors (BSI) have been available for over 10-years in mobile phones and specialist digital cameras. BSI provides advantages when it comes to improving low light performance and dynamic range but have been difficult to design for high speed sensors because of the larger pixel size required in a high speed sensor. With Vision Research's capability to design and fabricate their own sensors they have broken new ground with the sensors in the TMX series.

High speed sensors need to work with very short exposure times and so light sensitivity is a critical factor in their design. High speed sensors are designed with large pixels to improve sensitivity however this in-turn makes the sensors larger and so difficult to manufacture as backside illuminated sensors. Backside Illuminated Sensors require additional manufacturing steps. Among them is a wafer backthinning step to remove the bulk silicon, bringing the photodiodes closer to the light source. There are also additional processing steps on the backside of the wafer to anneal the surface and provide electrical contacts to the front side. When thinning the backside of a large sensor there is a much greater probability of defects which creates a low-yield and so many sensors are discarded. Vision Research have been able to achieve a commercially viable yield with their new techniques and this has resulted in these mind-blowingly fast TMX cameras.

 

The BSI sensor on the Phantom TMX cameras deliver great advantages:
Speed
The Phantom TMX 7510 is the world's first high-speed camera that utilizes a back-side illuminated sensor. This sensor delivers over 75,000 fps at full 1 Mpx resolution. The Phantom TMX 6410 is able to deliver Phantom quality images at nearly 66,000 fps at full 1 Mpx resolution. Historically, the resolutions associated with high speed cameras when running at hundreds of thousands of FPS were too low for nearly all scientific uses. The TMX 7510 with FAST option can run at 1,750,000 fps at 1280 x 32 pixels which is a usable resolution in a wide range of applications.
Exposure Times
The new sensor supports minimum exposure times as short as 95 ns with Export Controlled FAST option, making it the fastest in its class by far. The fast exposure times make it possible to capture ever-faster events without motion blur, which can be a limiting factor in obtaining high-quality images in applications as wide ranging as cytometry and combustion analysis.
Pixel size
To work in light-starved conditions, high-speed cameras have historically used very large pixel sizes as a means to catch as many photons as possible. Our existing Front Side Illuminated (FSI) ultra high speed sensors, for example, have a pixel size of 28 x 28 µm with an area of 784 µm2. The new BSI high-speed image sensor has an 18.5 x 18.5 µm pixel, but its proficiency at capturing light makes it as sensitive as earlier FSI sensors at three times the speed. Smaller pixels also improve sampling frequency (Nyquist), allowing the sensor to resolve higher lp/mm spatial frequencies before aliasing. This capability enhances the imaging system’s performance in flow cytometry, particle image velocimetry (PIV), digital image correlation (DIC) and other high speed applications limited by the resolving power of the sensor.





Solving analog-to-digital conversion challenges.
Embedding analog-to-digital converters (ADC) on CMOS image sensors is standard practice, but the BSI sensor’s speed requires a massive increase in the amount of analog to digital conversion.

While modern CMOS image sensors typically have between 1,000 and 10,000 embedded ADC's, the new BSI high-speed sensor has 40,000 ADC, each converting every 523 ns and generating a large amount of data to off-load from the sensor. To accomplish this task, it incorporates 160 high-speed serial outputs operating at greater than 5 Gbps. This technology is common on CPUs and FPGAs but new on a high-speed imaging sensor.

The density of ADC on the new sensor did create power management and electrical crosstalk challenges, which were solved with the help of our design and integrated production partner, Forza Silicon. While simulations are often used in predicting sensor performance, this sensor required the simulation to calculate for weeks to provide a prediction. Forza has significant experience in simplifying simulations and analyzing actual versus predicted results for fast design modifications. In the case of the BSI sensor, testing of early designs revealed a higher level of ADC crosstalk than our simulation models had predicted in both normal imaging and binning modes, causing noticeable artefacts in the images.

Forza engineers discovered that the crosstalk exhibited predictable patterns and developed modeling techniques that helped us eliminate the crosstalk altogether, which in turn mitigated imaging artefacts.

The sensor supports 2 x 2 binning to maximize throughput at faster speeds. Though not common in high-speed sensors, Vision Research implement binning in two previous cameras. It helps mitigate limitations of the sensor’s column ADC architecture, enabling faster speeds than simply decreasing the y-dimension. This approach is subtly different than binning as applied in CCD cameras, where it’s used to primarily boost sensitivity. In this case, we’re using it to boost speed.

BSI Difference
BSI is not a new technology, and it has been used with great success in standard and cellphone cameras. By adapting it to high-speed imaging, we’ve been able to create a sensor that pushes the boundaries on speed in light-starved conditions.

Key Features
Designed for high speed applications:
- 2 performance models offer extreme high frame rates at larger resolutions, up to 1.75 million fps at 1280 x 32 and 640 x 64
- Real data for real results: frame rates are actual with no interpolation. 2 x 2 Binning Mode provides double the vertical resolution at high frame rates for added flexibility
- Very high native light sensitivity, made possible by backside illuminated CMOS sensor
 
Focus on data management:
- Record multiple experiments with up to 512 GB of memory that can be portioned up to 511 times
- 10 Gb Ethernet is standard for the fastest data download directly from the camera's RAM buffer
- Use the Phantom CineMag V for up to 8TB of non-volatile memory and fast image transfer
Applications
Ballistics
Due to the TMX's light sensitivity and incredibly high frame rates, it makes it perfectly suited to ballistics e.g gunshot analysis or explosives etc.
Digital Image Correlation (DIC)
Digital Image Correlation is a non-contact method of observing how an object is affected by impact and vibration. It can also be used to create 3D imaging of the object to help researchers take exact measurements.
Combustion
Combustion applications often have unique difficulties that need to be overcome. Aside from being exceptionally fast events they often have lighting issues as they quickly fluctuate between being very dark and very bright. Phantom cameras have features that aid researchers in dealing with these issues.
Droplet Analysis / PIV
Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) or droplet analysis, is a research method that allows scientists to observe the flow of air, water, and other invisible elements. Phantom cameras are equipped with high-resolution sensors to make particle tracking simple.
     
Quick Specifications
TMX 7510
TMX 6410
FPS at max res
76,000 fps
65,940 fps
Maximum FPS
722,050 (standard), 1,750,000 with FAST option 758,330 (standard), 1,516,660 with FAST option
Pixel Size/Binned Pixel Size
18.5 µm/37 µm
Maximum Resolution
1280 x 800
Sensor Type
CMOS, Backside Illuminated (BSI)
Sensor Size
23.7 mm x 14.8 mm


Need a price or more application information? Please email Adept Turnkey or call our offices
Adept Turnkey Pty Ltd are "The Machine Vision and Imaging Specialists" and distributor of Vision Research products in Australia and New Zealand. To find out more about any Vision Research product, please call Adept Turnkey at Perth (08) 9242 5411 / Sydney (02) 9905 5551 / Melbourne (03) 9384 1775 or contact us online.

 

 

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