15 June 2006 Performances of CPNG: a new generation photon-counting camera with real-time dedicated optimal processing
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Abstract
Since 1974 we develop photon-counting imaging devices for high angular resolution in the visible by means of speckle and optical interferometry. Our last generation photon-counting camera, CPNG, has been built to benefit from the recent advances in photonic commercial components. CPNG is an ICCD which uses electron multiplication in microchannel plates to overcome the readout noise of fast CCD. We achieve optimal performances (sensitivity and resolution) by proper optical design, by cooling of the first stage photocathode and by careful data processing. Thanks to the power of current workstations, the processing of the CCD signal can be done by elaborated real-time software at frame rates as high as 262 Hz (72 Mpixel/s). The real-time software is in charge of detecting occurences of photon-events and estimating their positions. We explain how our dedicated processing improves the detection sensitivity to reach an effective quantum efficiency of 35%. We also show that our unbiased recentering of detected photons can avoid spurious high-energy events and nevertheless achieve sub-pixel resolution. In practice, our resolution is limited by the size of a microchannel to about 2000×2000 effective pixels for our 516×532 CCD. The very good performances of CPNG open us new classes of objects and have proven to be useful for other applications. For instance, several versions of our camera have been developped (with different spectral ranges) to cover the common needs in Astronomy and biological imaging for an extremely low-light level and fast imaging detector.
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X. Rondeau, E. Thiébaut, A. Blazit, R. Foy, "Performances of CPNG: a new generation photon-counting camera with real-time dedicated optimal processing", Proc. SPIE 6276, High Energy, Optical, and Infrared Detectors for Astronomy II, 62760L (15 June 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.671950; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.671950
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