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Picosecond Streak Camera With Single Photon Sensitivity

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000042549D
Original Publication Date: 1984-May-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Feb-04
Document File: 2 page(s) / 38K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Kash, JA: AUTHOR

Abstract

Current streak camera technology is capable of about 5-picosecond resolution (for example, the IMACON 500 of Hadland Photonics, Ltd.) for measuring light intensity as a function of time. However, an important limitation of currently available streak cameras is relatively poor sensitivity and limited dynamic range. Even the best streak cameras require [1] tens of photons per pulse to obtain signal-to-noise slightly greater than one. Thus, the present utility of streak cameras is limited to intense bursts of light. In addition, the dynamic range of such streak cameras is typically only a few orders of magnitude.

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Picosecond Streak Camera With Single Photon Sensitivity

Current streak camera technology is capable of about 5-picosecond resolution (for example, the IMACON 500 of Hadland Photonics, Ltd.) for measuring light intensity as a function of time. However, an important limitation of currently available streak cameras is relatively poor sensitivity and limited dynamic range. Even the best streak cameras require [1] tens of photons per pulse to obtain signal-to-noise slightly greater than one. Thus, the present utility of streak cameras is limited to intense bursts of light. In addition, the dynamic range of such streak cameras is typically only a few orders of magnitude. On the other hand, time-resolved photon counting (TRPC) [2] using fast photomultipliers [3] or single photon avalanche diodes (SPADs) [4] is capable of resolving extremely weak repetitive light pulses (containing on average less than one photon per pulse). In addition, such systems are easily capable of a dynamic range of 5 orders of magnitude. The disadvantage of these systems is that time resolution is about 200 psec for photomultipliers and 70 psec for SPADs. The differences in sensitivity and dynamic range between a streak camera and TRPC lies in the fact that a streak camera is an "analog" system measuring intensity levels, while a TRPC system is "digital", relying on measuring the time interval between a reference pulse and the single photon pulse. An improved streak camera system is provided utilizing a new type of multi-channel detector which reads out the position where a single particle photon, electron, etc., strikes the face of the detector, called a PSD (e.g., the SSL Position Sensitive Detector of Surface Science Laboratories, Inc.) instead of the usual phosphor screen detector, and a new "digital" method for collecting streak camera data. Together, they provide the time resolution of the streak camera with the sensit...