Optimizing timing performance of silicon photomultiplier-based scintillation detectors

Jung Yeol Yeom, Ruud Vinke, Craig S. Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


Precise timing resolution is crucial for applications requiring photon time-of-flight (ToF) information such as ToF positron emission tomography (PET). Silicon photomultipliers (SiPM) for PET, with their high output capacitance, are known to require custom preamplifiers to optimize timing performance. In this paper, we describe simple alternative front-end electronics based on a commercial low-noise RF preamplifier and methods that have been implemented to achieve excellent timing resolution. Two radiation detectors with L(Y)SO scintillators coupled to Hamamatsu SiPMs (MPPC S10362-33-050C) and front-end electronics based on an RF amplifier (MAR-3SM+), typically used for wireless applications that require minimal additional circuitry, have been fabricated. These detectors were used to detect annihilation photons from a Ge-68 source and the output signals were subsequently digitized by a high speed oscilloscope for offline processing. A coincident resolving time (CRT) of 147 ± 3 ps FWHM and 186 ± 3 ps FWHM with 3 × 3 × 5 mm3 and with 3 × 3 × 20 mm3 LYSO crystal elements were measured, respectively. With smaller 2 × 2 × 3 mm3 LSO crystals, a CRT of 125 ± 2 ps FWHM was achieved with slight improvement to 121 ± 3 ps at a lower temperature (15° C). Finally, with the 20 mm length crystals, a degradation of timing resolution was observed for annihilation photon interactions that occur close to the photosensor compared to shallow depth-of-interaction (DOI). We conclude that commercial RF amplifiers optimized for noise, besides their ease of use, can produce excellent timing resolution comparable to best reported values acquired with custom readout electronics. On the other hand, as timing performance degrades with increasing photon DOI, a head-on detector configuration will produce better CRT than a side-irradiated setup for longer crystals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1207-1220
Number of pages14
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Feb 21
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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