This PDF file contains the front matter associated with SPIE Proceedings Volume 9858, including the Title Page, Copyright information, Table of Contents, Introduction, and the Conference Committee listing.
The QIS was conceived when contemplating shrinking pixel sizes and storage capacities, and the steady increase in digital processing power. In the single-bit QIS, the output of each field is a binary bit plane, where each bit represents the presence or absence of at least one photoelectron in a photodetector. A series of bit planes is generated through high-speed readout, and a kernel or “cubicle” of bits (x,y,t) is used to create a single output image pixel. The size of the cubicle can be adjusted post-acquisition to optimize image quality. The specialized sub-diffraction-limit photodetectors in the QIS are referred to as “jots” and a QIS may have a gigajot or more, read out at 1000 fps, for a data rate exceeding 1Tb/s. Basically, we are trying to count photons as they arrive at the sensor. This paper reviews the Quanta Image Sensor (QIS) concept and its imaging characteristics. Recent progress towards realizing the QIS for commercial and scientific purposes is discussed. The QIS represents a possible major paradigm shift in image capture.
A CMOS image sensor with deep sub-electron read noise and high pixel conversion gain has been developed. Its performance is recognized through image outputs from an area image sensor, confirming the capability of photoelectroncounting- level imaging. To achieve high conversion gain, the proposed pixel has special structures to reduce the parasitic capacitances around FD node. As a result, the pixel conversion gain is increased due to the optimized FD node capacitance, and the noise performance is also improved by removing two noise sources from power supply. For the first time, high contrast images from the reset-gate-less CMOS image sensor, with less than 0.3e−rms noise level, have been generated at an extremely low light level of a few electrons per pixel. In addition, the photon-counting capability of the developed CMOS imager is demonstrated by a measurement, photoelectron-counting histogram (PCH).
In order to fulfill the requirements of many applications, we recently developed a new technology aimed at combining the advantages of traditional thin and thick silicon Single Photon Avalanche Diodes (SPAD). In particular we demonstrated single-pixel detectors with a remarkable improvement in the Photon Detection Efficiency in the red/nearinfrared spectrum (e.g. 40% at 800nm) while maintaining a timing jitter better than 100ps. In this paper we discuss the limitations of such Red-Enhanced (RE) technology from the point of view of the fabrication of small arrays of SPAD and we propose modifications to the structure aimed at overcoming these issues. We also report the first preliminary experimental results attained on devices fabricated adopting the improved structure.
In this paper we present the results of electrical and optical characterization of silicon single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) development at Voxel Inc. Measurements are made on a 40 x 40 SPAD array test chip with column readout, inpixel integrated active quenching circuit, and pixel enable/disable circuit and ability to control dead time from 37 ns to 1.5 μs. The pixel pitch is 35 micrometers and includes three different SPADs with active-area diameters of 8 micrometers, 10 micrometers, and 14 micrometers. The realized SPADs have a breakdown voltage of 22.5 V with peak-to-peak variation of less than 36 mV across the array. At room temperature, with 10% over-bias the DCR is only 0.22 Hz/μm2. The SPADs have a sensitive range of 400 – 900 nm, with a peak photon-detection probability of 23% at 500 nm. After-pulsing and crosstalk are within the noise fluctuation of the SPAD and are not significant.
Aggregated compound semiconductor single photon avalanche diode (SPAD) arrays are emerging as a viable alternative to the silicon photomultiplier (SiPM). Compound semiconductors have the potential to surpass SiPM performance, potentially achieving orders of magnitude lower dark count rates and improved radiation hardness. New planar processing techniques have been developed to enable compound semiconductor SPAD devices to be produced with pixel pitches of 11 – 25 microns, with thousands of SPADs per array.
Si-Ge lateral avalanche photodiodes (Si-Ge LAPDs) are promising devices for single photon detection, but they also have technology challenges. Si-Ge LAPDs are CMOS compatible and capable of detecting photons near the 1550 nm telecommunications bands. However, the Si-Ge LAPD exhibits a unique avalanche multiplication process in silicon, where the electrons and holes follow curved paths in three-dimensional space. Traditional models for the analysis of the avalanche multiplication process assume one-dimensional paths for the carriers that undergo the chains of impact ionizations; therefore, they are not suitable for analyzing the avalanche properties of Si-Ge LAPDs. In this paper, the statistics of the avalanche process in the Si-Ge LAPD are modeled analytically using a method that was recently developed by our group for understanding the avalanche multiplication in nanopillar, core-shell GaAs avalanche photodiodes, for which the electric field is non-uniform in magnitude and direction. Specifically, the calculated mean avalanche gain and the excess noise are presented for the Si-Ge LAPD device. It is also shown that the avalanche characteristics depend upon the specific avalanche path taken by the carrier, which depends, in turn, on the lateral location where each photon is absorbed in the Ge absorber. This property can be exploited to achieve reduced excess noise as well as wavelength-sensitive single-photon detection.
Time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) is a widely used, sensitive, precise, robust and mature technique to measure photon arrival times in applications such as fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy, light detection and ranging (lidar) and optical tomography. Wide-field TCSPC detection techniques, where the position and the arrival time of the photons are recorded simultaneously, have seen several advances in the last few years, from the microsecond to the picosecond time scale. Here, we summarise some of our recent work in this field with emphasis on microsecond resolution phosphorescence lifetime imaging (PLIM) and nanosecond fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) microscopy.
In this report, we present Time-Correlated Photon Counting (TCPC) technique and its applications in time-correlated Raman spectroscopy. The main difference between TCPC and existing Time-Correlated Single Photon Counting (TCSPC) is that the TCPC employs a photon-number-resolving photodetector (SiPM, silicon photomultiplier) and measures exact photon number rather than counting single photon by reducing pulse light intensity, thus high measurement speed and efficiency can be expected. A home-made Raman spectrometer has demonstrated an Instrument Response Function (IRF) ~100ps (FWHM) based on TCPC with a strip SiPM (1mm×0.05mm, containing 500 micro cells), fast and weak Raman signals was separated from slow and strong fluorescence background of bulk trinitrotoluene（TNT）sample. The original Raman spectrum of bulk TNT, measured by TCPC technique, is compared with the result obtained by a commercial Micro-Raman Spectrometer.
We demonstrate a 64-pixel free-space-coupled array of superconducting nanowire single photon detectors optimized for high detection efficiency in the near-infrared range. An integrated, readily scalable, multiplexed readout scheme is employed to reduce the number of readout lines to 16. The cryogenic, optical, and electronic packaging to read out the array, as well as characterization measurements are discussed.
We discuss the performance of a 1.25 GHz gated single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) with bias gates of 150 ps FWHM and AC amplitude up to 25 V, a high-efficiency, high-speed SPAD system. This system uses an interferometric readout technique known as harmonic subtraction, and recent development efforts have enabled the use of up to the 4th harmonic of the gate to discriminate avalanche signals from the gate transient. With an improved design of the RF control system we have been able to demonstrate an ultra-low minimum detectable charge. We discuss the performance of this system, particularly its afterpulsing performance when counting at rates > 108 s-1. Systems of this type require unique characterization techniques, and we will discuss the methods we have developed for this purpose.
Commercial photon-counting modules, often based on actively quenched solid-state avalanche photodiode sensors, are used in wide variety of applications. Manufacturers characterize their detectors by specifying a small set of parameters, such as detection efficiency, dead time, dark counts rate, afterpulsing probability and single photon arrival time resolution (jitter), however they usually do not specify the conditions under which these parameters are constant or present a sufficient description. In this work, we present an in-depth analysis of the active quenching process and identify intrinsic limitations and engineering challenges. Based on that, we investigate the range of validity of the typical parameters used by two commercial detectors. We identify an additional set of imperfections that must be specified in order to sufficiently characterize the behavior of single-photon counting detectors in realistic applications. The additional imperfections include rate-dependence of the dead time, jitter, detection delay shift, and "twilighting." Also, the temporal distribution of afterpulsing and various artifacts of the electronics are important. We find that these additional non-ideal behaviors can lead to unexpected effects or strong deterioration of the system's performance. Specifically, we discuss implications of these new findings in a few applications in which single-photon detectors play a major role: the security of a quantum cryptographic protocol, the quality of single-photon-based random number generators and a few other applications. Finally, we describe an example of an optimized avalanche quenching circuit for a high-rate quantum key distribution system based on time-bin entangled photons.
An optical correlation receiver is described that provides ultra-precise distance and/or time/pulsewidth measurements even for weak (single photons) and short (femtosecond) optical signals. A new type of optical correlation receiver uses a fourth-order (intensity) interferometer to provide micron distance measurements even for weak (single photons) and short (femtosecond) optical signals. The optical correlator uses a low-noise-integrating detector that can resolve photon number. The correlation (range as a function of path delay) is calculated from the variance of the photon number of the difference of the optical signals on the two detectors. Our preliminary proof-of principle data (using a short-pulse diode laser transmitter) demonstrates tens of microns precision.
communication and ranging. NASA GSFC is testing the performance of two types of novel photon-counting detectors 1) a 2x8 mercury cadmium telluride (HgCdTe) avalanche array made by DRS Inc., and a 2) a commercial 2880-element silicon avalanche photodiode (APD) array. We successfully measured real-time communication performance using both the 2 detected-photon threshold and logic AND-gate coincidence methods. Use of these methods allows mitigation of dark count, after-pulsing and background noise effects without using other method of Time Gating The HgCdTe APD array routinely demonstrated very high photon detection efficiencies (>50%) at near infrared wavelength. The commercial silicon APD array exhibited a fast output with rise times of 300 ps and pulse widths of 600 ps. On-chip individually filtered signals from the entire array were multiplexed onto a single fast output. NASA GSFC has tested both detectors for their potential application for space communications and ranging. We developed and compare their space communication and ranging performances using both the 2 detected photon threshold and coincidence methods.