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.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems|
|Publication status||Published - 26 Dec 2012|
- silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs)
- single photon avalanche diodes (SPADs)
- time domain fluorescence lifetime
- time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC)