Sunday, February 15, 2009

Solid State Photomultiplier

A company called Amplification Technologies has invented something called a solid state photomultiplier.
Amplification Technology Inc. has developed a new solid-state semiconductor technology solution for low-level signal detection: multichannel Discrete Amplification (DA).

The patented DA platform technology, invented by company scientists, is a breakthrough in the design of photon detectors, providing these detectors with unique competitive advantages. Use of DA in semiconductor detectors increases their sensitivity markedly, and enables the creation of new detector systems for various applications including medical diagnostics, security systems, telecommunications, environmental monitoring and drug discovery.
They really don't give many details of their technology but if it works as stated it could be a real boon to designers of particle detectors. The output of the device is low impedance (50 ohm) so that it should be much less susceptible to electric field noise such as is found in installations that depend on high voltage for their operation.

Tube photomultipliers, because they are high impedance devices, are notorious for their susceptibility to electric field noise. Like a photomultiplier this device is inherently high speed. The company recommends a standard microwave amplifier rated at 4 GHz for use with the device. Such solid state amplifiers are available for a dollar or two in small quantities. Pulse lengths of under a nanosecond are resolvable. In that respect their performance is similar to a photomultiplier and like a photomultiplier it can detect single photons with about the same efficiency as a photomultiplier. The gain of the device is around 1E5. Similar to that of a photomultiplier.

The question of course is: are all these improvements available at a reasonable price?

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