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9 February 2007 Fully integrated sub 100ps photon counting platform
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Current state of the art high resolution counting modules, specifically designed for high timing resolution applications, are largely based on a computer card format. This has tended to result in a costly solution that is restricted to the computer it resides in. We describe a four channel timing module that interfaces to a computer via a USB port and operates with a resolution of less than 100 picoseconds. The core design of the system is an advanced field programmable gate array (FPGA) interfacing to a precision time interval measurement module, mass memory block and a high speed USB 2.0 serial data port. The FPGA design allows the module to operate in a number of modes allowing both continuous recording of photon events (time-tagging) and repetitive time binning. In time-tag mode the system reports, for each photon event, the high resolution time along with the chronological time (macro time) and the channel ID. The time-tags are uploaded in real time to a host computer via a high speed USB port allowing continuous storage to computer memory of up to 4 millions photons per second. In time-bin mode, binning is carried out with count rates up to 10 million photons per second. Each curve resides in a block of 128,000 time-bins each with a resolution programmable down to less than 100 picoseconds. Each bin has a limit of 65535 hits allowing autonomous curve recording until a bin reaches the maximum count or the system is commanded to halt. Due to the large memory storage, several curves/experiments can be stored in the system prior to uploading to the host computer for analysis. This makes this module ideal for integration into high timing resolution specific applications such as laser ranging and fluorescence lifetime imaging using techniques such as time correlated single photon counting (TCSPC).
© (2007) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
S. J. Buckley, S. J. Bellis, P. Rosinger, and J. C. Jackson "Fully integrated sub 100ps photon counting platform", Proc. SPIE 6471, Ultrafast Phenomena in Semiconductors and Nanostructure Materials XI and Semiconductor Photodetectors IV, 647116 (9 February 2007);

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