Low-light-level imaging

What is low-light-level imaging?

Low-light-level imaging in semiconductor microscopy applications is used to detect faint emissions. This technique is also called photon emission microscopy or electroluminescence imaging. In general, electroluminescence is the emission of photons due to electrical stimulation.

What is low-light-level imaging used for?

Photon emission microscopy is typically done with SWIR cameras. In the SWIR band it is a proven technique for fault localization in microelectronic failure analysis.

How to localize faults?

Faults are localized by using several different techniques to isolate the defective areas on a die in the failed units. This is a very critical step in microelectronics as it dramatically reduces the area required for analysis. The localized defect is then characterized with a view to further understand the failure mechanism.

What causes photon emission?

Photon emission can be caused by the following type of defects in the semiconductor material:

  1. Hot electrons or hot holes
  2. Chemical impurities
  3. Deep traps
  4. Physical defects

Photon emission from defects are generally associated with forward and reverse biased pn junctions, transistors in saturation or dielectric breakdown.


What features are needed?

  • TE cooler (3 stage) or liquid nitrogen (LN2) cooling
    Cooled SWIR cameras have lower dark current, reach lower noise levels and have higher dynamic ranges. Both TE3 as LN2 cooled cameras are available
  • Long exposure time
    Long exposure times (up to several hours) are needed for the detection of low-light-level signals
  • High sensitivity
    Low noise and low dark current are crucial to achieve the best image quality in low light level conditions
  • Low read noise
    Low read noise results in high sensitivity for low light signals

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Press Releases
Xenics at Vision 2012: Cougar-640 SWIR camera is LN2-cooled for lowest noise and dark current We demonstrate the Cougar-640 LN2-cooled SWIR camera at Vision 2012. This camera is perfectly suited for extreme low-light-level applications (2012)
Application notes
Xeva-1.7-320-TE3 for low light level imaging The Xeva-1.7-320-TE3 camera can be used in a wide variety of applications. This application note goes deeper into detail on photon emission microscopy and photon emission analysis.
Semiconductor failure analysis using SWIR cameras Cooled, very sensitive detectors are critical for low-light-level measurements in spectroscopy, fluorescence imaging, and photon emission measurements, including semiconductor failure analysis.
SWIR cameras for timely defect detection ensure higher yields in solar cell production. SWIR cameras for timely defect detection ensure higher yields.
Electroluminescense analysis using SWIR cameras speeds up the development of solar cells Electroluminescence analysis accelerates thin-film solar cell development
Sensitive infrared InGaAs cameras detect weak electroluminescent radiation emitted by thin-film solar cells Electroluminescence analysis improves the quality of solar cells
Low-noise SWIR InGaAs camera accelerates Melanoma diagnosis Dutch researchers have used the Cougar-640 to develop a cutting-edge method to accelerate the diagnosis of melanoma

Thermal Imagers in mobile systems for Security & Safety Market

It was a challenge to produce a mobile system for border control in just 6 months, but with Xenics as a partner we could apply for this project.

Ivica Mijić, Audio-Video Trend