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Rev Sci Instrum. 2012 Mar;83(3):033104. doi: 10.1063/1.3692737.

Custom single-photon avalanche diode with integrated front-end for parallel photon timing applications.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Elettronica e Informazione, Politecnico di Milano, Milano 20133, Italy.

Abstract

Emerged as a solid state alternative to photo multiplier tubes (PMTs), single-photon avalanche diodes (SPADs) are nowadays widely used in the field of single-photon timing applications. Custom technology SPADs assure remarkable performance, in particular a 10 counts/s dark count rate (DCR) at low temperature, a high photon detection efficiency (PDE) with a 50% peak at 550 nm and a 30 ps (full width at half maximum, FWHM) temporal resolution, even with large area devices, have been obtained. Over the past few years, the birth of novel techniques of analysis has led to the parallelization of the measurement systems and to a consequent increasing demand for the development of monolithic arrays of detectors. Unfortunately, the implementation of a multidimensional system is a challenging task from the electrical point of view; in particular, the avalanche current pick-up circuit, used to obtain the previously reported performance, has to be modified in order to enable high parallel temporal resolution, while minimizing the electrical crosstalk probability between channels. In the past, the problem has been solved by integrating the front-end electronics next to the photodetector, in order to reduce the parasitic capacitances and consequently the filtering action on the current signal of the SPAD, leading to an improvement of the timing jitter at higher threshold. This solution has been implemented by using standard complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technologies, which, however, do not allow a complete control on the SPAD structure; for this reason the intrinsic performance of CMOS SPADs, such as DCR, PDE, and afterpulsing probability, are worse than those attainable with custom detectors. In this paper, we propose a pixel architecture, which enables the development of custom SPAD arrays in which every channel maintains the performance of the best single photodetector. The system relies on the integration of the timing signal pick-up circuit next to the photodiode, achieved by modifying the technological process flow used for the fabrication of the custom SPAD. The pixel is completed by an external standard CMOS active quenching circuit, which assures stable timing performance at quite high count rate (>1 MHz).

PMID:
22462903
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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