A high-throughput time-resolved mini-silicon photomultiplier with embedded fluorescence lifetime estimation in 0.13 μm CMOS

Tyndall, David and Rae, Bruce R. and Li, David Day Uei and Arlt, Jochen and Johnston, Abigail and Richardson, Justin A. and Henderson, Robert K. (2012) A high-throughput time-resolved mini-silicon photomultiplier with embedded fluorescence lifetime estimation in 0.13 μm CMOS. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems, 6 (6). pp. 562-570. ISSN 1932-4545

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Abstract

We describe a miniaturized, high-throughput, time-resolved fluorescence lifetime sensor implemented in a 0.13 μm CMOS process, combining single photon detection, multiple channel timing and embedded pre-processing of fluorescence lifetime estimations on a single device. Detection is achieved using an array of single photon avalanche diodes (SPADs) arranged in a digital silicon photomultiplier (SiPM) architecture with 400 ps output pulses and a 10% fill-factor. An array of time-to-digital converters (TDCs) with ≈50 ps resolution records up to 8 photon events during each excitation period. Data from the TDC array is then processed using a centre-of-mass method (CMM) pre-calculation to produce fluorescence lifetime estimations in real-time. The sensor is believed to be the first reported implementation of embedded fluorescence lifetime estimation. The system is demonstrated in a practical laboratory environment with measurements of a variety of fluorescent dyes with different single exponential lifetimes, successfully showing the sensor's ability to overcome the classic pile-up limitation of time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) by over an order of magnitude.