Kirana: An ultra high-speed video camera
08 Jun 2023



The Kirana camera is a CCD-in-CMOS image sensor capable of achieving 7 million frames per second at a megapixel resolution.



The Kirana sensor
This project is a commercial undertaking as a partnership between STFC and Specialised Imaging Ltd, a UK-based high-speed imaging company. 

Developed within the CMOS Sensor Design Group, the Kirana sensor uses a blend of two competing imaging technologies to deliver the best of both worlds. The sensor comprises an array of 924x768 pixels, with the light sensing diode and periphery readout developed in CMOS technology. Inside each of those pixels is then a second array of 180 CCD (Charge Coupled Device) cells, whose job is to take the signal from the diode and act as an in-pixel memory. This allows the camera to run at speeds of up to 7Mfps for a burst of 180 frames, before returning to its standard operating speed of 1000fps.

The Kirana camera.
Kirana is a cross-group project, pulling together the strengths of the CMOS Sensor Design Group, the Interconnect group, and Cryogenics. The Interconnect group are instrumental in the supply, handling both the assembly of the modules in the R115 clean room facilities, as well as the design of several generations of PCB.​

The Kirana project has been running for over a decade, starting as a test structure and feasibility study before moving to a commercial enterprise, supplying its first fully certified camera to customers in 2014. Specialised Imaging was also awarded the Queen's Award for Innovation in 2016 for the Kirana camera.

Recently the Kirana team celebrated the delivery of the 150th module and hopes for many more in the future.

“Specialised Imaging identified a gap in the high-speed camera market and set about finding a solution to provide very high-resolution images at megahertz rates. The technology did not exist at the time, and further research led us to the CMOS Image Sensor group at the Science and Technology Facilities Council's (STFC) Technology Department who were well positioned to develop the new technology required to meet this challenging marketing requirement.

After three years of very close collaboration, the completed design provided an innovative image sensor which was broadly welcomed by our customers worldwide and has helped Specialised Imaging cement its position as a world leader in ultra-high-speed imaging.

The close collaboration with STFC continues today, and Specialised Imaging has found that the depth and breadth of knowledge and skills available within the various groups at STFC have been invaluable in helping us to maintain our market position and continue to improve this flagship product."

- Wai Chan, Managing Director of Specialised Imaging​

Written by the CMOS Sensor Design team​.​