Philips Makes Major Progress in the Development of a Fully Digital Light Detection Technology

October 27, 2010

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.

Fully integrated 64-pixel digital silicon photomultiplier

Philips prototype of a fully integrated 64-pixel digital silicon photomultiplier with large sensing surface.

Engineer holds Philips digital silicon photomultiplier

Engineer holds Philips fully integrated 64-pixel digital silicon photomultiplier prototype with large sensing surface.

Media contact

Hans Driessen
Philips Corporate Technologies
Tel.: +31 402746692
Mobile: +31 610610417


About Royal Philips Electronics

Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI) is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through timely innovations. As a world leader in healthcare, lifestyle and lighting, Philips integrates technologies and design into people-centric solutions, based on fundamental customer insights and the brand promise of “sense and simplicity”. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips employs approximately 118,000 employees in more than 60 countries worldwide. With sales of EUR 23 billion in 2009, the company is a market leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as lifestyle products for personal well-being and pleasure with strong leadership positions in flat TV, male shaving and grooming, portable entertainment and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at