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- The single-photon counting imaging sensor is typically an array of silicon Geiger-mode avalanche photodiodes that are monolithically integrated with CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) readout, signal processing, and addressing circuits located in each pixel and the peripheral area of the chip. The major problem is its single-event method for photon count number registration. A single-event single-photon counting imaging array only allows registration of up to one photon count in each of its pixels during a frame time, i.e., the interval between two successive pixel reset operations. Since the frame time can t be too short, this will lead to very low dynamic range and make the sensor merely useful for very low flux environments. The second problem of the prior technique is a limited fill factor resulting from consumption of chip area by the monolithically integrated CMOS readout in pixels. The resulting low photon collection efficiency will substantially ruin any benefit gained from the very sensitive single-photon counting detection. The single-photon counting imaging sensor developed in this work has a novel multiple-event architecture, which allows each of its pixels to register as more than one million (or more) photon-counting events during a frame time. Because of a consequently boosted dynamic range, the imaging array of the invention is capable of performing single-photon counting under ultra-low light through high-flux environments. On the other hand, since the multiple-event architecture is implemented in a hybrid structure, back-illumination and close-to-unity fill factor can be realized, and maximized quantum efficiency can also be achieved in the detector array.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20120006706.
NASA Tech Briefs, November 2011; 24-25.
- Copyright, Distribution as joint owner in the copyright.
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