A technical guide to silicon photomultipliers (MPPC)

Ardavan Ghassemi, Hamamatsu Corporation
Kota Kobayashi & Kenichi Sato, Hamamatsu Photonics, K.K.
January 11, 2018

Silicon photomultipliers from Hamamatsu are called Multi-Pixel Photon Counters (MPPC). This extensive guide to MPPCs describes the device's operating principle, its performance parameters, and how to measure various characteristics such as gain, breakdown voltage, photon detection efficiency, and linearity. Also included is a detector selection case study where, for a given set of measurement conditions, the signal-to-noise ratio and linearity of an avalanche photodiode and an MPPC are calculated and compared.

Section 1: Operation principles and characteristics

  • PN junction and silicon photodiodes
  • Avalanche photodiodes (APD)
  • MPPC

Section 2: APD & MPPC performance parameters

  • Signal
  • Noise
  • Signal-to-noise ratio (S/N)
  • Linearity
  • Dynamic range
  • Time response
  • Time resolution

Section 3: Case studies of APD/MPPC performance calculations

  • Calculating an MPPC's signal-to-noise ratio
  • Calculating an MPPC's linearity
  • Calculating an APD's signal-to-noise ratio
  • Calculating an APD's linearity
  • Conclusion

Section 4: Measuring MPPC characteristics

  • Gain and breakdown voltage
  • Breakdown voltage measurement by obtaining Vpeak from I-V curve
  • Photon detection efficiency (PDE) vs. bias voltage measurement
  • Dark count rate (DCR) and prompt crosstalk measurement using counter and CR filter
  • Measurement of DCR, prompt crosstalk, recovery time, afterpulsing, and delayed crosstalk using digitizer and digital pulse processing
  • Single-photon pulse shape measurement
  • Time resolution: coincidence time resolution (CTR) and single photon time resolution (SPTR)
  • Dynamic range and linearity
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