Conference paper

High Frame-rate TCSPC-FLIM Using a Novel SPAD-based Image Sensor

Imaging techniques based on time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC), such as fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM), rely on fast single-photon detectors as well as timing electronics in the form of time-to-digital or time-to-analog converters. Conventional systems rely on stand-alone or small arrays (up to 32) of detectors and external timing and memory modules. We recently developed a fully integrated image sensor containing 32x32 pixels and fabricated in a 130 nm CMOS technology. The chip produces an overall data rate of 10Gb/s in terms of time-of-arrival measurements in each pixel. As opposed to conventional single detector FLIM systems, the present system can acquire a full image, albeit at low resolution, without the need of an optical scanning system. As a consequence the complexity of the optical setup is reduced and the acquisition speed is dramatically increased. We show the potential of this new technology by presenting high time resolution (119 ps) TCSPC-FLIM images of pollen grains with acquisition times as low as 69 ms. Furthermore, the low noise (similar to 100 Hz) and high photon detection probability (up to 35%) ensure a good photon economy over the visible spectrum. We believe that this technology will open the way to fast TCSPC-FLIM recordings of transient signals in the bio- and life sciences, such as in neuron signaling.


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