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Optimum Signal-to-noise Ratio Performance of Electron Multiplying Charge Coupled Devices

Authors: Wen W. Zhang, Qian Chen


Electron multiplying charge coupled devices (EMCCDs) have revolutionized the world of low light imaging by introducing on-chip multiplication gain based on the impact ionization effect in the silicon. They combine the sub-electron readout noise with high frame rates. Signal-to-noise Ratio (SNR) is an important performance parameter for low-light-level imaging systems. This work investigates the SNR performance of an EMCCD operated in Non-inverted Mode (NIMO) and Inverted Mode (IMO). The theory of noise characteristics and operation modes is presented. The results show that the SNR of is determined by dark current and clock induced charge at high gain level. The optimum SNR performance is provided by an EMCCD operated in NIMO in short exposure and strong cooling applications. In contrast, an IMO EMCCD is preferable.

Keywords: electron multiplying charge coupled devices, noise characteristics, operation modes, signal-to-noise ratioperformance

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