Can you please give a brief introduction to DECTRIS and outline the industries that you're working in?
DECTRIS is specialized in photon-counting detection systems. We are very much into the two-dimensional hybrid pixel detectors, but we also have one-dimensional photon-counting systems. We originally focused on synchrotron science, meaning really top-level research facilities around the world which do x-ray diffraction experiments. Our goal is to deliver highest quality turnkey x-ray detectors which allow our users to focus on their experiments.
DECTRIS is shortly going to be releasing the EIGER detector series. Could you explain what these are and how they work?
EIGER is our newest product. Its a complete product familiy with highest spatial resolution. So instead of 170 micrometer pixels, we now have 75 micrometer pixels.
The technology is single-photon-counting technology, which means that you have no readout noise and the best possible signal-to-noise ratio. So we kept all the nice features of our current PILATUS product family, but we reduced the pixel size, giving a much higher resolution which enables really new experiments.
Technologically, it's a big step. We had to adapt the flip chip technology to the smaller pixel size, a big challenge. At the same time, we are increasing the frame rate now from a few hundred hertz to above one kilohertz, which is a significant step in terms of the underlying hardware which we had to develop. We are proud that EIGER is improving both critical features, i.e we are combining higher resolution together with even higher frame rates.
What would you outline as the key advantages for customers of these particular detectors?
The key advantage for the customers lies in the higher resolution that you will get, because together with photon-counting technology, the direct detection of x-rays give very sharp-point-spread functions. So 75 micrometer pixels compete with smaller pixels of CCD cameras because with indirect detection one always loses resolution. Primarily, micro-diffraction experiments will profit from the higher spatial resolution, which is a key issue for very difficult projects.
Compared to other competitors and other detectors on the market, how would you say the EIGER series is particularly unique?
EIGER is very unique in terms of being the ultimate product for the single photon counting technology. It's touching the limit in terms of spatial resolution while keeping all the very nice features such as precise calibration, programmable thresholds, different trigger modes.
You have room temperature operation of the detectors, so there's no maintenance involved. It is a very mature, robust and stable product based on the latest semiconductor technology.
What industries do you believe are going to be primarily benefiting from this particular product?
With the Eiger X series we are strengthening our position for synchrotron applications because this community has the highest demands. They need highest resolution and extremely high frame rates for their experiments.
At the same time, we adopt the synchrotron technology to demands of laboratory x-ray diffraction community, which is analyzing a purpose in the laboratory. What we do there is we optimize the product for the needs of laboratory and industrial requirements. They don't need the ultimate speed but they need ultimate stability and easy operation.
What kind of information can you get from using this detector?
You get highest precision, high dynamic range imaging and diffraction information with the best possible resolution.
What are the main applications of the EIGER system?
The main application is clearly in the x-ray diffraction world. Protein crystallography will benefit a lot also, other x-ray diffraction techniques like SAXS, cSAXS and Ptychography, due to the improved resolution together with the extremely high dynamic range. So these are both features which are nicely covered by EIGER.
In the domain of time-resolved experiment, EIGER will set a new standard because it has a continuous read write mode which allows you to go beyond kilohertz frame-rates. XPCS and other time resolved technique will profit from the ultimate speed and sensitivity.
Finally, new imaging experiments are possible and we are very curious to see, what scientists will do with the new tools.
What is the next stage of development for EIGER? Where do you want to take it next after it's been launched?
Of course we are continuously improving our products. We're very glad that we came up with this very stable version of the detector. We are mainly thinking of improving aspects in the high performance sector. But at the moment, we're just very happy about the maturity of EIGER and of being able to finally launch the complete product line.
About Christian Brönnimann
Christian Brönnimann is founder and CEO of Dectris Ltd., which is the world leading company for detectors for x-ray diffraction.
He studied physics at the Universitiy of Zuerich and did his PhD at the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI) in Villigen, Switzerland in high energy physics.
In 1997 he started the development of hybrid pixel detectors for the Swiss Light Source SLS. After the breakthrough with the first large area Pilatus detector in 2005 he decided to commercialize the development.
In 2006 he founded Dectris together with 3 partners. The business of supplying fast, large area and reliable detectors for synchrotron applications grew very rapidly.
By the end of 2013 Dectris has more than 50 highly qualified employees. Currently 650 detector systems are used at synchrotrons and in lab sources around the world, the vast majority is used for challenging diffraction experiments.
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