A high-throughput time-resolved mini-silicon photomultiplier with embedded fluorescence lifetime estimation in 0.13 μm CMOS

David Tyndall, Bruce R. Rae, David Day Uei Li, Jochen Arlt, Abigail Johnston, Justin A. Richardson, Robert K. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-570
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2012


  • biosensors
  • silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs)
  • single photon avalanche diodes (SPADs)
  • time domain fluorescence lifetime
  • time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC)

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