Philips announces breakthrough in fully digital silicon photomultiplier technology

October 9, 2009--Royal Philips Electronics (Eindhoven, The Netherlands) has developed innovative digital silicon photomultiplier technology that will allow faster and more accurate photon counting in a wide range of ultra-low-light-level applications such as medical imaging and in particular positron emission tomography (PET), in-vitro diagnostic tests such as DNA sequencing, high-energy physics, night vision, and other applications that currently use photomultiplier tubes.

October 9, 2009--Royal Philips Electronics (Eindhoven, The Netherlands) has developed innovative digital silicon photomultiplier technology that will allow faster and more accurate photon counting in a wide range of ultra-low-light-level applications such as medical imaging and in particular positron emission tomography (PET), in-vitro diagnostic tests such as DNA sequencing, high-energy physics, night vision, and other applications that currently use photomultiplier tubes (see also "Max Planck Innovation sign agreement on silicon-photomultiplier technology", "SensL's silicon photomultiplier enables PET/MRI brain imaging", "ATI unveils NIR solid-state photomultiplier with gain of greater than 200,000," and "Hybrid detector combines PMT and semiconductor-diode technologies").

As with virtually all 'solid-state' alternatives, this new digital silicon photomultiplier technology should enable the production of smaller and lighter battery-powered equipment for use in areas such as medical diagnostics and surveillance. The performance of Philips' prototype detector, in terms of its speed and dark count level (background noise), will be presented at the IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference, which will take place on October 25-31 in Orlando, FL. Other important features of this new light detection technology include its robustness, low power consumption, light detection efficiency, and very high level of integration of the optical detection and associated electronic components.

"Silicon photomultipliers have many advantages over photomultiplier tubes in terms of size, weight, reliability, maintenance, power consumption and supply voltage. It is expected that the photomultiplier world very soon will be converted to silicon," explained Prof. dr. ir. Albert J. P. Theuwissen, professor at the Delft University of Technology, and a leading digital imaging expert. "The scientists at Philips have obtained ground-breaking results with their R&D work in the new field of silicon photomultipliers. For instance, as far as dark counts are concerned, they have set a world record with their prototype devices."

The key to Philips' breakthrough lies in its ability to combine high-quality single-photon detectors (silicon avalanche photodiodes) with low-voltage CMOS logic on the same silicon substrate. Moreover, these revolutionary new silicon photomultipliers can be manufactured using a conventional CMOS process technology.

Philips is actively looking for development partners with application expertise to fully exploit the market potential of its new digital silicon photomultiplier technology.

For more information, go to www.philips.com.

--Posted by Gail Overton, gailo@pennwell.com; www.laserfocusworld.com.

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