Real-time time correlated photon counters for photon number resolving detectors

Mala Sadik, Xiao Ai, Yang Lu, Richard Nock

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputConference publication


In this paper, a novel Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) based instrument for Time Correlated Photon Counting (TCPC) is reported which takes advantage of the photon number resolving ability of newer single photon detectors technologies, such as silicon photomultipliers (SiPM). Utilizing the received photon number in the formation of the TCPC histogram will enable faster measurements in comparison to Time Correlated Single Photon Counting (TCSPC) as less information is being discarded per excitation pulse. The concept of (TCSPC) and the differences with TCPC are introduced, as the well as the advantages of using TCPC when using a number resolving photodetector such as a SiPM rather than a traditional Single Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD). The design and performance of the system is reported. An 8-stop TCPC system is presented along with a hardware solution to handle time correlations in real-time on-chip rather than in post processing. A system accuracy of 42ps RMS has been demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOptical Sensing and Detection VI
EditorsFrancis Berghmans, Anna G. Mignani
ISBN (Electronic)9781510634800
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020
EventOptical Sensing and Detection VI 2020 - Virtual, Online, France
Duration: 6 Apr 202010 Apr 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceOptical Sensing and Detection VI 2020
CityVirtual, Online

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2020 SPIE. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic reproduction, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper are prohibited.


  • Silicon Photomultiplier
  • Time Correlated Photon Counting
  • Time-to-digital converter


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