Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ultrasensitive photon hunter

Date:
November 7, 2012
Source:
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Summary:
When it comes to imaging, every single photon counts if there is barely any available light. This is the point where the latest technologies often reach their limits. Researchers have now developed a diode that can read photons faster than ever before.

It is now possible to process digital image signals directly on the microchip.
Credit: Fraunhofer IMS

When it comes to imaging, every single photon counts if there is barely any available light. This is the point where the latest technologies often reach their limits. Researchers have now developed a diode that can read photons faster than ever before.

Fast and ultrasensitive optical systems are gaining increasing significance and are being used in a diverse range of applications, for example, in imaging procedures in the fields of medicine and biology, in astronomy and in safety engineering for the automotive industry. Frequently the challenge lies in being able to record high-quality images under extremely low light conditions. Modern photo detectors for image capture typically reach their limits here. They frequently work with light-sensitive electronic components that are based on CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) or CCD (Charge-Coupled Device) image sensors. The problem is that neither the latest CMOS nor CCD systems can simultaneously guarantee a swift and highly-sensitive high quality image recording if there is a paucity of photons to read.

In cooperation with the partners of the MiSPiA project consortium the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS in Duisburg has now advanced the development of CMOS technology and introduced an ultrasensitive image sensor with this technology, based on Single Photon Avalanche Photodiodes (SPAD). Its pixel structure can count individual photons within a few picoseconds, and is therefore a thousand times faster than comparable models. Since each individual photon is taken into consideration camera images are also possible with extremely weak light sources.

Camera installed directly on chip

To achieve this the new image sensor uses the "internal avalanche breakdown effect"- a photoelectric amplification effect. The number of "avalanche breakdowns" corresponds to the number of photons that the pixels hit. In order to count these events, each of the sensor's pixels comes with very precise digital counters. At the same time, the scientists have applied microlenses to each sensor chip, which focus the incoming beam in each pixel onto the photoactive surface. Another advantage is that processing the digital image signals is already possible directly on the microchip; therefore, additional analogue signal processing is no longer needed.

"The image sensor is a major step toward digital image generation and image processing. It allows us to have the capability to use even very weak light sources for photography. The new technology installs the camera directly on the semiconductor, and is capable of turning the information from the light into images at a significantly faster pace," states Dr. Daniel Durini, group manager for optical components at the Fraunhofer Institute IMS.

IMS engineered the sensor under the European research project MiSPiA (Microelectronic Single-Photon 3D Imaging Arrays for low-light high-speed Safety and Security Applications). Altogether, seven partners throughout Europe from the fields of research and business are involved in the project. In the next stage, the scientists from Duisburg are working on a process to produce sensors that are back-lighted, and in this regard, even more powerful. At the same time, the new technology is already being utilized in tests for traffic. Chip-based mini-cameras protect vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians from collisions and chip-based accidents, or assist in the reliable functioning of safety belts and airbags.

The Fraunhofer Institute IMS will exhibit the new image sensor at "Vision" -- the world's leading trade show for image processing -- from November 6 to 8, 2012 in Stuttgart.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Ultrasensitive photon hunter." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121107073046.htm>.
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. (2012, November 7). Ultrasensitive photon hunter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121107073046.htm
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Ultrasensitive photon hunter." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121107073046.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) MIT developed a robot modeled after a cheetah. It can run up to speeds of 10 mph, though researchers estimate it will eventually reach 30 mph. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) Automobile manufacturer Local Motors created a drivable electric car using a 3-D printer. Printing the body only took 44 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Refurbished New York Subway Tunnel Unveiled After Sandy Damage

Refurbished New York Subway Tunnel Unveiled After Sandy Damage

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 15, 2014) New York officials unveil subway tunnels that were refurbished after Superstorm Sandy. Nathan Frandino reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins