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7 November 2008

e2v contract to supply a set of 16-Megapixel, high sensitivity CCD image sensors for the Very Large Telescope in Chile

e2v, a leading designer, developer and manufacturer of specialised components and subsystems has accepted a new contract from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) to provide CCD image sensors for the Very Large Telescope operated in Chile.

e2v will supply ESO, the largest astronomical institute in Europe, with a set of  CCD231-84 sensors over a two year period.  The image sensors will be used on a new Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE); this is a second-generation instrument being built for the Very Large Telescope, which will be used by European astronomy researchers. The instrument will allow many thousands of spectra to be recorded simultaneously to allow high efficiency studies of dense stellar and extragalactic astrophysical fields.

ESO selected the e2v devices for their high technical performance, including:

  • Area 4k x 4k pixels;
  • High quantum efficiency through the use of backthinned deep depletion silicon with a novel optimised graded thickness coating;
  • Very low readout noise, with 2 e-rms nominal noise level;
  • Precision package design for ”plug and play” installation.

e2v was also chosen because of its well established track record of previously delivering such large sets of CCDs for astronomical applications to ESO and to many other observatories worldwide.

e2v manufactures sensors with formats from 80 X 80 to 8192 X 3972 pixels, for a range of applications.  The CCD231 (and complementary CCD230) series of devices offer state-of-the-art performance for scientific imaging applications.  In particular the CCD231-84 sensor chosen by ESO is the flagship 4096 X 4096 pixel sensor of this type, with a silicon-carbide buttable package with flex-cables for cryogenic connections.  Variant devices in a standard ceramic/PGA package are also proving popular in this newly-developed device range.  The devices are designed using the e2v ‘stitching†concept, which facilitates supply of many formats from the same established design (including 2k2k, 4k4k, 8k3k etc).

Roland Bacon, Principal Investigator of the MUSE project, said “MUSE is built to observe very distant galaxies, where the light has taken billions of years to travel and reach our telescopes.  Observing galaxies when the Universe was only a few billion years old is a big challenge as, at such distances, galaxies look tiny and are dramatically faint. The ESO second generation VLT instrument MUSE is built to face this challenge. The high performance of the new e2v large format CCDs are central to the performance of MUSE, enabling each of the few remaining photons received from these young galaxies to be collected at a very high efficiency.”

Brian McAllister, General Manager of Space & Scientific Imaging at e2v, said “ESO and e2v have worked together on many projects in the last decade, providing sensors for guidance, adaptive optics and large mosaic cameras.  We are delighted to receive this new contract for image sensors from our new CCD231 family, developed to meet the demanding specifications of todayâ€s astronomers and scientists.”

e2v has over 30 years of experience in the design and manufacture of both standard and highly customised, high performance image sensors and cameras for a broad range of applications.  e2v manufactures CCD, EMCCD, and CMOS area and line scan image sensors for a variety of markets; with capabilities including back-illumination, high speed, low noise, high quantum efficiency and sensitivity to photon wavelengths from X-ray through near-IR. e2v routinely provides image sensors for the most demanding applications in space, astronomy and scientific imaging; as well as medical, industrial machine vision, security and professional broadcast, cinematography and Digital Still Camera (DSC) markets.

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Jessica Broom           Tel: + 44 (0) 1 245 453 607


e2v technologies plc

e2v technologies is a leading designer, developer and manufacturer of specialised components and subsystems, falling within two product groups:

  • Electronic tubes
  • Sensors and Semiconductors

These products enable some of the worldâ€s leading OEMs to deliver innovative systems for medical and science, aerospace and defence, and commercial and industrial applications.

For the year ended 31 March 2008, e2v achieved sales of £205m and is listed on the London Stock Exchange (e2v.l).  In July 2006 e2v technologies plc acquired a leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of specialised electronic components and sub-systems, based in Grenoble, France and in May of 2007 e2v plc acquired MiCS Microchemical Systems SA a designer and manufacturer of semiconductor based gas sensors.  These acquisitions strengthen the Groupâ€s position as a major global provider of specialised electronic components and subsystems.

e2vâ€s products are supplied into three core market areas:

  • Medical & Science: Sensor technology includes imaging sensors for intra-oral and panoramic dental X-ray, mammography, life science applications and X-ray microscopy. Electronic tubes are the enabling technology behind radiotherapy cancer treatments, microwave medical therapy and high-energy physics.
  • Aerospace & Defence: Sensor technology includes products for military surveillance, targeting and guidance, space-based imaging and astronomy, radar, electronic warfare, and broadband data converters and microprocessors for aerospace applications.  Electronic tubes provide the enabling technology behind radars, electronic countermeasures (ECM), electronic warfare and satellite communications.
  • Commercial & Industrial: Sensor technology includes marine radars, industrial safety sensors, automotive radars and alarms, thermal imaging cameras used by fire fighters, CCD and CMOS high resolution line scan cameras for industrial inspection. Electronic tubes provide enabling technology behind TV broadcast, satellite communications, marine radar and food & industrial processing.

The overall purpose of the business is to grow sustainable shareholder value whilst appropriately meeting the expectations of customers, people, partners, suppliers and the wider community.  e2vâ€s vision is to create value through bright ideas in technology and materials science. The Companyâ€s mission is to place customers at the heart of the business, providing enabling products of premium quality that extend technical barriers and enhance the competitive position of our partners.

e2v has approximately 1,800 employees worldwide with three UK based manufacturing sites in Chelmsford, Lincoln and High Wycombe, one in Grenoble, France and one in Corcelles, Switzerland.  In addition e2v has sales offices in the UK, USA, Germany, France and Hong Kong, as well as a network of distributors and representatives covering other key territories.

Further information on e2v technologies plc is available from its website,