Fast Imaging Sensors Workshop

20 May 2011

The 2nd Fast Imaging Sensors Workshop was held at the Jesus College Conference Centre on 5 May 2011, organised by Andrei Nomerotski (Oxford Physics), Mark Brouard and Claire Vallance (Oxford Chemistry), and Renato Turchetta (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, RAL). The aim of the workshop was to review progress in the field of fast two-dimensional detectors, as well as to discuss their current and potential future applications.

Recent progress in silicon technologies is spawning a new generation of instrumentation that is having a fundamental impact on scientific measurement. In particular, fast imaging with nanosecond time resolution, sensitive to single particles (ions, molecules, photons etc), has considerable potential for applications in areas ranging from chemistry and biomedicine to particle physics. This level of performance can be achieved with monolithic active pixel sensors (MAPS), which were invented over a decade ago. They are based on a planar CMOS process, and, together with low noise and minimal material budget, allow for intelligence to be in-built at the pixel level and for flexible architectures tailored to specific applications.

About 50 people attended the workshop, including representatives of four companies interested in the developments. Talks reviewed the state-of-the-art in CMOS detectors, single photon avalanche diodes, high-speed imaging, velocity- and spatial-mapped ion imaging, and high-resolution mass spectrometry. The first results from PImMS (Pixel Imaging Mass Spectrometry), a fast imaging sensor developed in an STFC-funded collaboration between the Oxford Physics and Chemistry and RAL, were also presented. PImMS uses a novel architecture to achieve the equivalent of over 20 million frames per second. It has been designed for applications in the next-generation of time-of-flight mass spectrometers, which will possess unique imaging capabilities. For each mass, the new instruments will image with high precision the complete velocity or spatial distribution of the ions at their point of formation. This could take mass spectrometry from its current role as a one-dimensional 'weighing' technique into a multi-dimensional world, in which spatial, velocity, and even coincidence information is provided as a function of mass. The first version of the sensor, which has 72x72 pixels, was produced several months ago, and the initial results are extremely encouraging. The collaboration is already working on the next generation sensor, PImMS2, which will have much better spatial resolution, and should be available early next year. The presentations also included a demonstration of the PImMS camera.

More detail about PImMS project can be found in http://www.physics.ox.ac.uk/LCFI/PImMS.html .

The workshop was funded through an EPSRC ‘Pathways to Impact Grant’.