Eindhoven, the Netherlands – Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI) today announced a major step forward in the development of a highly innovative digital silicon photomultiplier technology by scaling it from a single-pixel sensor to a fully integrated 64-pixel sensor with a sensing surface of over 10 square centimeters.
“Our digital silicon photomultiplier technology is fully scalable and opens the door to new applications in areas such as medical imaging and nuclear physics,” says Rob Ballizany, vice president of Philips and general manager of Philips Digital Photon Counting. “With this new technology, we intend to bring the digital revolution to any application where ultra-low light levels need to be measured.”
Capable of counting single photons (the basic quantum units of light) and detecting their arrival time with an accuracy of around 60 picoseconds, Philips’ new digital silicon photomultiplier technology will allow faster and more accurate photon counting in a wide range of applications where large-area ultra-low light detection is required. Details of Philips’ new prototype 64-pixel sensor will be presented for the first time at this year’s IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference (October 30 - November 6, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA).
Applications where the scalability of the technology could be of major benefit include medical imaging (most notably Positron Emission Tomography - PET- imaging) and analytical instrumentation for the life-science industry. However, the technology has potential to be used in applications such as high energy particle detectors and safety & security systems.
"The digital SiPMs (Silicon PhotoMultipliers) from Philips use new concepts that make them very interesting for fast timing applications in particle and nuclear physics," says professor Michael Düren, Ph.D., of Giessen University, Giessen, Germany.
Featuring digital detection of photon-induced avalanche breakdown in each individual photodiode, together with on-chip photon counting and time-stamping logic that eliminates the bulky power-consuming A/D circuitry associated with existing analog silicon photomultipliers, Philips’ new digital silicon photomultiplier technology offers the ‘solid-state’ alternative to large-area sensors using photomultiplier tubes.
The Philips innovative digital silicon photomultiplier technology has an industry leading performance, in terms of its speed, light detection efficiency and dark count. Other important features of this new light detection technology include its robustness, low power consumption (the prototype 8 x 8 pixel array consumes less than 1 W), insensitivity to magnetic fields and very high level of integration in the optical detection and associated readout circuitry.
Philips is actively looking for partners in selected applications to fully exploit the market potential of its new digital silicon photomultiplier technology.