Constant-fraction circuits for picosecond photon timing with microchannel plate photomultipliers

Cova, S.; Ghioni, M.; Zappa, F.; Lacaita, A.
January 1993
Review of Scientific Instruments;Jan1993, Vol. 64 Issue 1, p118
Academic Journal
Since single-photon pulses of photomultiplier tubes (PMTs) have statistically fluctuating amplitude, constant-fraction trigger circuits (CFTs) are normally employed for accurate timing. However, with the subnanosecond signals of microchannel-plate types (MCPs) nonideal CFT behavior is observed. A residual amplitude-dependent time walk sets the ultimate resolution in time-correlated photon counting (TCPC). We present a quantitative analysis of the problem and discuss published results. We assess the effect of pulse shaping filters and derive criteria for selecting the fast preamplifier. For MCP models with 40-ps intrinsic resolution, we show that by changing the pulse delay and attenuation ratio in the available CFTs, with minor circuit modifications, the residual time walk is strongly reduced and the detector performance can be fully exploited. For faster MCP types, with 20-ps resolution or better, the improvement is also remarkable, but we show that there is margin for further improvement and we point out criteria for designing new CFTs.


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