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Silicon Photomultipers (SiPM and sometimes called a Solid State (SSPM)) are relatively new on the scene of capturing photon's and converting them to electronic signals. Unlike a PMT vacuum tube, the SiPM is a Silicon single photon sensitive devices built from an avalanche photodiode (APD) array on common Si substrate.
The dimension of each single APD can vary from 20 to 100 micrometres, and their density can be up to 1000 per square millimeter. Every APD in SiPM operates in Geiger-mode and is coupled with the others by a polysilicon quenching resistor.
SiPM's are relatively new compared to PMT's but have the benefit of being relatively small, even wafer thin, require very little voltage to operate, and promise to have extremely high photon resolution detection.
Although SiPM's work in digital/switching mode it is an analog device because all the microcells are read in parallel making it possible to generate signals within a dynamic range from a single photon to 1000 photons for just a single square millimeter area device. The supply voltage (Vb) depends on APD technology used, and typically varies between 20 V and 100 V, thus being from 15 to 75 times lower than the voltage required for a traditional photomultiplier tubes (PMTs) operation.
The downside has been temperature control. SiPM's require cooling to operate properly, with ambient room temperature being the optimal operating temperature. Therefore, environments that require operation well above 20C require special cooling of the SiPM which may be impossible given some operational environments are between 90 C and 180 C.
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