The SPC ² camera is based on a 32 x 32 array of "smart pixels". Each of these 1024 pixels with a size of 100 x 100 μm contains a 20 μm SPAD as well as all the necessary electronics.
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Availability date: 08/31/2016
Many applications require the detection of two-dimensional images with very high sensitivity and a sufficient number of pixels. For the most demanding applications it is compulsory to have single-photon sensitivity in the visible and near infrared (400 nm - 850 nm) wavelengthh range. The number of pixels should be sufficiently high, though not as high as in digital cameras: usually some hundreds of pixels could suffice.
The standard CCDs (Charge Coupled Devices) can have many pixels (some millions), but they suffer of a notoriously slow read-out. CMOS Active Pixel Sensors (APS) albeit being fast are limited to poor sensitivity since they do not employ any internal amplification process. Electron-Multiplying EM-CCDs can reach single photon sensitivity, but they are not fast enough for many applications. Instead arrays of Single Photon Avalanche Diodes (SPADs) prove to be ideal candidates when very high sensitivity is required together with high-frame rate. Unlike Photo-Multiplier Tubes (PMTs) and Micro-Channel Plates (MCPs), SPAD arrays are insensitive to magnetic fields, require lower bias voltages, and can be easily integrated with complex electronics using standard CMOS processes.
SPC² is based on a 32 x 32 array of "smart pixels", each comprising a single-photon avalanche diode detector, an analog front end, and a digital processing electronics, which provides single-photon sensitivity, high electronic noise immunity, and high readout speed. The imager can be operated at a maximum of about 49 000 frame/s with negligible blind time between frames, provides high PDE in the visible range and dynamic range, and low DCR even at room temperature.
To easily integrate the imager into different applications, the single-photon camera system operates the array simply through a USB 2.0 link and user-friendly software.