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SPAD smart pixel for time-of-flight and time-correlated single-photon counting measurements

: Villa, F.; Markovic, B.; Bellisai, S.; Bronzi, D.; Tosi, A.; Zappa, F.; Tisa, S.; Durini, Daniel; Weyers, Sascha; Paschen, Uwe; Brockherde, Werner

Postprint (PDF; )

IEEE photonics journal 4 (2012), Nr.3, S.795-804
ISSN: 1943-0655
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer IMS ()
CMOS imager; single photon detector; time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC); Time of Flight (ToF); photon timing; photon counting; time-to-digital converter; 3-D ranging; 2-D imaging; fluorescence lifetime imaging

We present a smart pixel based on a single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) for advanced time-of-flight (TOF) and time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) applications, fabricated in a cost-effective 0.35-\'01m CMOS technology. The large CMOS detector (30-\'01m active area diameter) shows very low noise (12 counts per second at room temperature at 5-V excess bias) and high efficiency in a wide wavelength range (about 50% at 410 nm and still 5% at 800 nm). The analog front-end electronics promptly senses and quenches the avalanche, thus leading to an almost negligible afterpulsing effect. The in-pixel 10-bit time-to-digital converter (TDC) provides 312-ps resolution and 320-ns full-scale range (FSR), i.e., 10-cm single-shot spatial resolution within 50-m depth range in a TOF system. The in-pixel 10-bit memory and output buffers make this smart pixel the viable building block for advanced single-photon imager arrays for 3-D depth ranging in safety and security applications and for 2-D fluorescence lifetime decays in biomedical imaging.