A Single Photon Avalanche Diode Array Fabricated in 0.35um CMOS and based on an Event-Driven Readout for TCSPC Experiments
The design and characterization of an imaging sensor based on single photon avalanche diodes is presented. The sensor was fully integrated in a 0.35µm CMOS technology. The core of the imager is an array of 4x112 pixels that independently and simultaneously detect the arrival time of photons with picosecond accuracy. A novel event-driven readout scheme allows parallel column-wise and non-sequential, on-demand row-wise operation. Both time-correlated and time-uncorrelated measurements are supported in the sensor. The readout scheme is scalable and requires only 11 transistors per pixel with a pitch of 25µm. A number of standard performance measurements for the imager are presented in the paper. An average dark count rate of 6Hz and 750Hz are reported at room temperature respectively for an active area diameter of 4µm and 10µm, while the dead time is 40ns with negligible crosstalk. A timing resolution better than 80ps over the entire integrated array makes this technique ideal for a fully integrated high resolution streak camera, thus enabling fast TCSPC experiments. Applications requiring low noise, picosecond timing accuracies, and measurement parallelism are prime candidates for this technology. Examples of such applications include bioimaging at cellular and molecular level based on fluorescence lifetime imaging and/or, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, as well as fast optical imaging, optical rangefinders, LIDAR, and low light level imagers.