Philips develops breakthrough photomultiplier for medical imaging
8 October 2009
Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI) has announced that
its scientists have developed a highly innovative digital silicon
photomultiplier technology that will allow faster and more accurate
photon counting in a wide range of applications where ultra-low light
levels need to be measured.
where the new technology could have a major impact include medical
imaging, in particular positron emission tomography (PET), and in-vitro
diagnostic tests such as DNA sequencing and protein/DNA microarrays.
Other relevant areas include high-energy physics, night-vision systems
and other applications that currently use light detectors that are based
on so-called photomultiplier tubes.
As with virtually all ‘solid-state’ alternatives, this new digital
silicon photomultiplier technology should enable the production of
smaller and lighter battery-powered equipment for use in areas such as
medical diagnostics and surveillance.
The prototype detector will be presented at the IEEE Nuclear Science
Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference, which will take place on
October 25-31 in Orlando, Florida, USA.
Other important features of this new light detection technology
include its robustness, low power consumption, light detection
efficiency, and very high level of integration of the optical detection
and associated electronic components.
“Silicon photomultipliers have many advantages over photomultiplier
tubes in terms of size, weight, reliability, maintenance, power
consumption and supply voltage. It is expected that the photomultiplier
world very soon will be converted to silicon,” explained Prof. dr. ir.
Albert J. P. Theuwissen, professor at the Delft University of
Technology, the Netherlands, and a leading digital imaging expert.
“The scientists at Philips have obtained ground-breaking results with
their R&D work in the new field of silicon photomultipliers. For
instance, as far as dark counts are concerned, they have set a world
record with their prototype devices.”
“Solid-state digital technology has already taken over from outdated
analogue solutions in every-day applications such as TVs, camcorders and
photography,” says Rob Ballizany, Vice President of Philips Corporate
Technologies and responsible for the commercialization of this new
technology. “Based on my many years experience of successfully switching
the photographic industry from analogue to digital, I am convinced that
high-end professional applications such as medical imaging will undergo
a similar switch to digital detectors in the next few years.”
The key to Philips’ breakthrough lies in its ability to combine high
quality single-photon detectors (silicon avalanche photodiodes) with
low-voltage CMOS logic on the same silicon substrate. Moreover, these
revolutionary new silicon photomultipliers can be manufactured using a
conventional CMOS process technology.
Philips is actively looking for development partners with application
expertise to fully exploit the market potential of its new digital
silicon photomultiplier technology.
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