Special Issue "Single-Photon Detection Instrumentation and Applications"

A special issue of Instruments (ISSN 2410-390X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Angelo Gulinatti
Website
Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e Bioingegneria, Politecnico di Milano, piazza Leonardo da Vinci 32, 20133 Milano, Italy
Interests: single-photon detection; time-correlated single photon counting; design and modeling of photodetectors; semiconductor technologies for photodetectors

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent years, we witnessed an impressive increase in interest in single-photon detection, which has been boosted by two key aspects: The huge improvements in the performance of single-photon detection instrumentation, and the appearance of new industrial and scientific applications. These two aspects have acted synergistically. On the one hand, technical improvements have made possible and have stimulated the use of single-photon techniques in new fields; on the other hand, emerging applications have pushed for better performances and new functionalities.

There are many technical advancements that have made this change of pace possible. Among them are the general improvements in Single-Photon Avalanche Diodes (SPAD) performance, which can be ascribed to new structures, better design, and improved fabrication techniques; the successful adoption of CMOS technologies for the fabrication of large arrays of SPADs with smart pixels and advanced functionalities; the introduction of low-noise high-efficiency Silicon PhotoMultipliers (SiPM); the development of compact, multi-channel, time-correlated single-photon counting electronics; and the fabrication of Superconducting Nanowire Single-Photon Detectors (SNSPD) with performances that are close to ideal.

In spite of the tremendous progress of the last few years, a lot still has to be done to comply with the stringent requirements of applications like laser ranging, medical imaging, quantum-secure communication, time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy, quantum computing and many others.

The aim of this Special Issue is to collect contributions outlining recent advances on single-photon detection instrumentation as well as their building blocks and applications. Papers on single-photon detectors, electronics for photon counting/timing, complete single-photon detection systems and applications are welcomed. Topics of interests include, but are not limited to, the following aspects of single-photon detection:

  • Design, modeling and experimental characterization of detectors, circuits and systems.
  • Fabrication technology, especially for detectors.
  • Packaging and optical coupling.
  • Architectures and algorithms for efficient data processing.
  • Application examples and requirements.

Prof. Dr. Angelo Gulinatti
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Instruments is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Fast-Gated 16 × 1 SPAD Array for Non-Line-of-Sight Imaging Applications
Instruments 2020, 4(2), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/instruments4020014 - 25 May 2020
Abstract
In this paper we present a novel single-photon detector specifically designed for Non-Line-Of-Sight (NLOS) imaging applications within the framework of the DARPA REVEAL program. The instrument is based on a linear 16 × 1 Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS) Single-Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD) array operated [...] Read more.
In this paper we present a novel single-photon detector specifically designed for Non-Line-Of-Sight (NLOS) imaging applications within the framework of the DARPA REVEAL program. The instrument is based on a linear 16 × 1 Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS) Single-Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD) array operated in fast-gated mode by a novel fast-gating Active Quenching Circuit (AQC) array, which enables the detectors with sub-ns transitions thanks to a SPAD-dummy approach. The detector exhibits a timing resolution better than 50 ps (Full Width at Half Maximum - FWHM) at a measurement repetition rate up to 40 MHz, and provides 16 independent outputs compatible with commercial Time-Correlated Single-Photon Counting (TCSPC) instrumentation. The instrument has been experimentally characterized and operated in preliminary NLOS imaging acquisitions where a 40 × 60 cm hidden object is successfully reconstructed by scanning over a grid of 150 × 150 positions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Single-Photon Detection Instrumentation and Applications)
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Open AccessArticle
High Dynamic Range Imaging with TDC-Based CMOS SPAD Arrays
Instruments 2019, 3(3), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/instruments3030038 - 07 Aug 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
This paper investigates the use of image sensors based on complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) single-photon avalanche diodes (SPADs) in high dynamic range (HDR) imaging by combining photon counts and timestamps. The proposed method is validated experimentally with an SPAD detector based on a per-pixel [...] Read more.
This paper investigates the use of image sensors based on complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) single-photon avalanche diodes (SPADs) in high dynamic range (HDR) imaging by combining photon counts and timestamps. The proposed method is validated experimentally with an SPAD detector based on a per-pixel time-to-digital converter (TDC) architecture. The detector, featuring 32 × 32 pixels with 44.64-µm pitch, 19.48% fill factor, and time-resolving capability of ~295-ps, was fabricated in a 150-nm CMOS standard technology. At high photon flux densities, the pixel output is saturated when operating in photon-counting mode, thus limiting the DR of this imager. This limitation can be overcome by exploiting the distribution of photon arrival times in each pixel, which shows an exponential behavior with a decay rate dependent on the photon flux level. By fitting the histogram curve with the exponential decay function, the extracted time constant is used to estimate the photon count. This approach achieves 138.7-dB dynamic range within 30-ms of integration time, and can be further extended by using a timestamping mechanism with a higher resolution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Single-Photon Detection Instrumentation and Applications)
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Open AccessArticle
Monolithically-Integrated Single-Photon Avalanche Diode in a Zero-Change Standard CMOS Process for Low-Cost and Low-Voltage LiDAR Application
Instruments 2019, 3(2), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/instruments3020033 - 25 Jun 2019
Abstract
We present a single-photon sensor based on the single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) that is suitable for low-cost and low-voltage light detection and ranging (LiDAR) applications. It is implemented in a zero-change standard 0.18-μm complementary metal oxide semiconductor process at the minimum cost by [...] Read more.
We present a single-photon sensor based on the single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) that is suitable for low-cost and low-voltage light detection and ranging (LiDAR) applications. It is implemented in a zero-change standard 0.18-μm complementary metal oxide semiconductor process at the minimum cost by excluding any additional processing step for customized doping profiles. The SPAD is based on circular shaped P+/N-well junction of 8-μm diameter, and it achieves low breakdown voltage below 10 V so that the operation voltage of the single-photon sensor can be minimized. The quenching and reset circuit is integrated monolithically to capture photon-generated output pulses for measurement. A complete characterization of our single-photon sensor is provided. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Single-Photon Detection Instrumentation and Applications)
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Review

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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Silicon Photomultipliers: Technology Optimizations for Ultraviolet, Visible and Near-Infrared Range
Instruments 2019, 3(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/instruments3010015 - 12 Feb 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
Silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs) are single-photon sensitive solid-state detectors that are becoming popular for several applications, thanks to massive performance improvements over the last years. Starting as a replacement for the photomultiplier tube (PMT), they are now used in medical applications, big high-energy physics [...] Read more.
Silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs) are single-photon sensitive solid-state detectors that are becoming popular for several applications, thanks to massive performance improvements over the last years. Starting as a replacement for the photomultiplier tube (PMT), they are now used in medical applications, big high-energy physics experiments, nuclear physics experiments, spectroscopy, biology and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) applications. Due to different requirements in terms of detection efficiency, noise, etc., several optimizations have been introduced by the manufacturers; for example, spectral sensitivity has been optimized for visible light, near ultraviolet, vacuum ultraviolet, and near infrared light. Each one of them require specific processes and structural optimization. We present in this paper recent improvements in SiPM performance, owing to a higher cell fill-factor, lower noise, improved silicon materials, and deep trench isolation. We describe issues related to the characterization of analog SiPM, particularly due to the different sources of correlated noise, which have to be distinguished from each other and from the primary pulses. We also describe particular analyses and optimizations conducted for specific applications like the readout of liquid noble gas scintillators, requiring these detectors to operate at cryogenic temperatures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Single-Photon Detection Instrumentation and Applications)
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