Infoscience

Conference paper

LinoSPAD: a time-resolved 256x1 CMOS SPAD line sensor system featuring 64 FPGA-based TDC channels running at up to 8.5 giga-events per second

LinoSPAD is a reconfigurable camera sensor with a 256x 1 CMOS SPAD (single-photon avalanche diode) pixel array connected to a low cost Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGA. The LinoSPAD sensor's line of pixels has a pitch of 24 pm and 40% fill factor. The FPGA implements an array of 64 TDCs and histogram engines capable of processing up to 8.5 giga-photons per second. The LinoSPAD sensor measures 1.68 mmx6.8 mm and each pixel has a direct digital output to connect to the FPGA. The chip is bonded on a carrier PCB to connect to the FPGA motherboard. 64 carry chain based TDCs sampled at 400 MHz can generate a timestamp every 7.5 ns with a mean time resolution below 25 ps per code. The 64 histogram engines provide time-of n-arrival histograms covering up to 50 ns. An alternative mode allows the readout of 28 bit timestamps which have a range of up to 4.5 ms. Since the FPGA TDCs have considerable non-linearity we implemented a correction module capable of increasing histogram linearity at real-time. The TDC array is interfaced to a computer using a super-speed USB3 link to transfer over 150k histograms per second for the 12.5 ns reference period used in our characterization. After characterization and subsequent programming of the post-processing we measure an instrument response histogram shorter than 100 ps FWHM using a strong laser pulse with 50 ps FWHM. A timing resolution that when combined with the high fill factor makes the sensor well suited for a wide variety of applications from fluorescence lifetime microscopy over Raman spectroscopy to 3D timen-of-flight.

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