Date of Award


Author's School

McKelvey School of Engineering

Author's Department

Electrical & Systems Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Type



Localizing photon arrivals with high spatial (megapixel) and temporal (sub-nanosecond) resolution would be transformative for a number of applications, including single-molecule super-resolution fluorescence microscopy. Here, the Data Processing Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) is developed as an ultra-fast computational platform built on an FPGA for a microchannel plate (MCP)-photomultiplier tube (PMT) based single-photon counting camera. Each photon is converted by the MCP-PMT into an electron cloud that generates current pulses across a 50×50 cross-strip anode. The Data Processing FPGA executes a massively parallel center-of-gravity coordinate determination algorithm on the digitized current pulses to determine a 2D position and time of arrival for each charge cloud. The coordinates are relayed to a computer via a Gigabit Ethernet link. The system achieves a local photon throughput of 1.04 MHz. If photons arrive continuously with an average spacing of 1.5 μs across a 10×10 portion of the cross-strip anode, the system accurately localizes photons in both space and time and achieves a spatial precision of 4.1 μm (62 times smaller than the anode pitch) and a temporal precision of 55 ps (at 500 MHz digitization).


English (en)


Bruno Sinopoli

Committee Members

Matthew D. Lew, Shantanu Chakrabartty, Ed Richter