[MEGAFRAME] 2010: MEGAFRAME was successfully completed (see also MEGAFRAME Final Report , MEGAFRAME D6.4 Laboratory fluorescence microscopy demonstrator ), but work using the MEGAFRAME32 (32x32) and MEGAFRAME128 (128x160) devices has continued, as you can also see from the Publications section.

MEGAFRAME32 is being distributed by Photon Force Ltd (contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

In parallel, the follow-up FP7 ICT SPADnet project ( ) has been launched, dedicated to the use of SPAD arrays in medical imaging, most notably Positron Emission Tomography (PET), building on the MEGAFRAME scientific and technological achievements.


[MEGAFRAME] April 2010: MEGAFRAME was selected as one of "12 outstanding Commission-funded FET projects" showcased at the European Parliament in Strasbourg within the Science beyond Fiction exhibition, 20-21 April 2010, organised to introduce Members of the European Parliament to Future and Emerging Technologies (FET). E. Charbon [and J. Arlt] attended and presented a 3 part poster (poster 1 - poster 2 - poster 3). 


[MEGAFRAME] Oct. 2009: MEGAFRAME reports on the performance of an array of 32x32 plano-convex 50μm pitch microlenses (see LEOS 2009), fabricated by co-polymer casting in a photoresist replica mold, which have been characterized by a specially developed Optical Test Bench. The measured detection sensitivity increase reaches up to a factor of 35. This concentration factor is, to the best of our knowledge, presently the highest reported to date for any array of SPADs.


[MEGAFRAME] Sept. 2009: S. Donati, UNIPV, has been invited to present a talk at the 17th International Conference on Advanced Laser Technologies (ALT09), 26 Sept - 1 Oct 2009, Antalya, Turkey, and selected the MEGAFRAME project as a topic.


[MEGAFRAME] June-Sept. 2009: MEGAFRAME reports on the design and characterisation of 32x32 TDC/TAC plus single photon avalanche diode (SPAD) pixel arrays implemented in a 130nm imaging process, to create a single chip TCSPC sensor (see the IISW, CICC and ESSDERC Publications). To the best of our knowledge, this work constitutes the largest single-chip array of fully integrated TDCs/TACs so far reported. Each TDC/TAC-SPAD ensemble measures only 50x50μm2. It is thus one of the smallest ever demonstrated with deep sub-nanosecond time resolution.


[European R&D] July 2009: The European Commission has explicitly included single-photon and smart pixel based time-correlated imaging R&D into the ICT Call 5 Photonics 2009 topics (see EC Photonics unit website). This is fully in line with MEGAFRAME’s pioneering results, which proved that single photon arrays can indeed be implemented in deep sub-micron CMOS for time-correlated as well as intensity applications.


[MEGAFRAME] July 2009: MEGAFRAME reports on the a new low noise single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) fabricated in a 130 nm CMOS imaging process (SSE 2009). To the best of our knowledge, the DCR (Dark Count Rate) per unit area achieved in these devices is the lowest ever reported in deep sub-micron CMOS SPADs.


[MEGAFRAME] May 2009: MEGAFRAME reports on the real-time hardware (FPGA) implementation of a new integration based FLIM lifetime calculation algorithm, called IEM, suitable for SPAD arrays (see ISCAS 2009). This approach enables direct lifetime calculation in parallel for every pixel. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first system that can generate real-time video-rate fluorescence lifetime images.


[MEGAFRAME] April 2009: MEGAFRAME was selected as one of the exhibits of the FET09 Science beyond Fiction conference, 21-23 April 2009, Prague. E. Charbon and R. Henderson attended and presented a 3 part poster (poster 1 - poster 2 - poster 3).


[MEGAFRAME] Jan. 2009: Dr. Robert Henderson, UNIED, has been invited to present a talk at the Rank Prize mini-symposium on Single-Photon Detectors, 12-15 Jan 2009, Grasmere, Lake District, UK.


[MEGAFRAME] May 2008: MEGAFRAME reports on the direct integration for lifetime extraction method (IEM), a new, simple, and hardware-only fluorescence-lifetime-imaging microscopy (FLIM) proposed to implement on-chip lifetime extractions (JOSA A 2008).

"130nm CMOS SPAD", invited presentation at SPIE Optics East (Sept. 2007)

July/Aug. 2007: MEGAFRAME reports on the first implementation of a Single Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD) in 130 nm complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) technology - see also the JSTQE paper in the "Publications" section.


FBK/ITC press release, Oct. 2006 (original Italian version, English version).


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Partner Profiles
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) PDF Print
Quantum Architecture Group (Project coordinator)

EPFL logoThe Quantum Architecture Group (AQUA) at the EPFL’s School of Computer & Communication Sciences, has as its research mission the modelling and development of systems based on quantum devices. It pursues two main research directions around the central theme of CMOS quantum architectures. The first relates to the modelling and design of low power, high performance 2D/3D imagers and detectors based on SPADs and other quantum devices. The second focuses on analysis algorithms and automation methodologies for the design of these imagers and of embedded computational/arithmetic units associated with them.

EPFL has extensive experience in the design of fast imagers [C-10]. Over the last four years it has focused its research on single photon detectors [C-1,C-3,C-4,C-5]. The first fully integrated CMOS SPAD pixel was designed at its premises [C-7]. EPFL has conceived and fabricated the world’s largest array of SPAD pixels designed in CMOS technology.

The AQUA Group is headed by Edoardo Charbon, SNSF (Swiss National Research Fund) Professor, who built since 2002 a group of five graduate students and several undergraduates. Before joining the EPFL, Prof. Charbon has been the Chief Architect at Canesta, Inc., where he directed 10 engineers studying, designing, and implementing 2.5D and 3D imaging systems. His areas of expertise include I) 2D/3D Optical Imager Design, II) Numerical substrate/temperature analysis and circuit simulation, and III) Ultra low-noise IC design for instrumentation and sensor applications. Prof. Charbon has served as Guest Editor for selected issues in the IEEE J. Solid-St. Circ. as well as for the IEEE Trans. Comp. Aided Design, as Reviewer for several high-impact journals and international conferences (CICC, DAQ, etc.). He also was Conference Session Chair for the 1999-2005 CICC. He has co-authored two books, 7 patents on sensors and other devices, and over 65 scientific and technical papers. Prof. Charbon has been very active in promoting SPADs at major international conferences and at over 60 invited talks in universities and companies worldwide.

Università di Pavia (UNIPV) PDF Print
Optoelectronics Group

The Optoelectronics Group of the Department of Electronics, Faculty of Engineering at University of Pavia was created in 1980 by Professor Donati. The Group has an average staff of ten researchers and is devoted to applications of Electro-Optics to engineering, including Devices and Instrumentation. The Group has a long record of contributions to photodetection and photodetectors. In particular, noise and timing issues, and specialty optics have been studied extensively and were the strong points on which important contributions have been given through the years.

UNIPV has a long record of achievement in photodetectors with milestone contributions to several topics such as scintillation detectors [C-11], avalanche photodiodes [C-8], CCDs [C-12], coherent injection detection [C-13], and squeezed-state detection [C-14]. More specific to the present program, it has gained considerable experience on non-imaging optics with high efficiency photovoltaic cells operating in the regime of solar concentration, and has recently carried out research on ultra-fast photodiodes for photomixing applications [C-9].

The Optoelectronics Group is headed by Professor Silvano Donati, an IEEE and OSA Fellow and Meritorious Member of AEI, the National Electronics Engineers Association. Prof. Donati has authored two books with Prentice Hall (Photodetectors, 1999, and Electro-Optical Instrumentation, 2004), has chaired a dozen of Intl. and National Conferences, authored or co-authored more than 200 papers. He has been the Editor of ten Special Issues of Intl. Journals, and holds a dozen patents. Of particular relevance to this proposal is Prof. Donati's work on optical concentrators and brilliance issues (see his book [C-2]), and the seminal study on APD noise [C-8]. More recent is the Special Issue [C-9] on Photodetectors.

University of Edinburgh (UNIED) PDF Print
Institute of Micro and Nano Systems & Collaborative Optical Spectroscopy

UNIED logoThe Institute for Integrated Micro and Nano Systems (IMNS) brings together researchers from integrated circuit design, system-on-chip design, microfabrication, MEMS, micro-machining and neural computation. Research activities range from industrially-focussed process development and low-power system-on-chip design to long-term research into circuit design, system architectures, micro-stereolithography and novel structures on silicon, with strong links to the life sciences. The Collaborative Optical Spectroscopy, Micromanipulation and Imaging Centre (COSMIC) is a centre for interdisciplinary research funded by SHEFC, Scottish Enterprise, industrial sponsors and normal research grants. COSMIC incorporates advanced characterisation, visualisation and control of materials at the molecular level. Interest and involvement from industries that need to characterise and control the properties of complex materials, including biological systems, at the molecular and nanoscale level is actively encouraged and the centre participates in numerous industry-led partnerships.

UNIED-INMS was among the pioneers in the development of CMOS imaging, creating the start-up company VLSI Vision which was subsequently to become the core competence centre of STMICRO's Imaging Division. UNIED-INMS has been active in CMOS image sensor development within these organisations for many years before rejoining academia to undertake research in optical biosensing. In its previous role in STMICRO partner UNIED-INMS worked on the world’s first single-chip video camera and on the design of low-noise, highly-parallel readout architectures for mobile and digital still camera applications [C-15,C-16]. UNIED-COSMIC is a diverse end-user community of senior scientists with extensive research in the field of biophotonics [C-6,C-17]. UNIED-IMNS and COSMIC have a successful track record of collaboration in a number of projects.

Dr. Robert Henderson is a lecturer at the School of Engineering and Electronics in the IMNS. In 1996, he was appointed senior VLSI engineer at VLSI Vision Ltd, Edinburgh, UK where he worked on the world’s first single chip video camera and was project leader for numerous other CMOS image sensors. From 2000, as principal VLSI engineer in ST Microelectronics Imaging Division he developed very high volume, low noise image sensors for mobile phone applications. He has thus extensive design experience and an exceptionally good relationship with the industrial partner STMICRO which should greatly facilitate development of the MEGAFRAME imager. He joined Edinburgh University in 2005 to pursue his research interests in CMOS integrated circuit design, imaging and biosensors. He is the author of 30 papers and 12 patents. He was awarded the 1990 IEE J. J. Thomson Premium.

Fondazione Bruno Kessler PDF Print
Integrated Optical Sensor Group

The Integrated Optical Sensor (IOS) Group is part of the Microsystems Division of the Fondazione Bruno Kessler (formerly “Istituto Trentino di Cultura – Istituto per la Ricerca Scientifica e Tecnologica” (ITC-irst), until 28.2.2007), in Trento (Italy). The group is well balanced covering both research and development activities. The main research activities of the group are in the field of “Sensors for Special Imaging” and range from the development of devices for 3D measurements and vision to digital cameras with high dynamic range for security and automotive applications, and from pixel arrays for optical position sensors to linear arrays for spectro-photometry. The activity is focused on the study, design and test of sensors in CMOS and MEMS technologies.

FBK has extensive experience in the design of analogue and mixed-signal circuits. It has designed and successfully tested a number of high-speed CMOS optical sensors. It has a recognised expertise on design and development of high dynamic range cameras [C-18] based on non-logarithmic pixel response. Related to the present project, FBK can account for a large experience in designing integrated 3D cameras based on TOF using fast gating circuits [C-19,C-20], photomixing devices [C-21], and, more recently, CMOS SPADs [C-22].

Dr. David Stoppa received the Laurea degree in Electronics Engineering from the Politecnico of Milan, in 1998, and the Ph.D. in Microelectronics from the University of Trento, in 2002. Since March 2000 he has been working as an Assistant Professor at the Telecommunications Engineering faculty of the University of Trento, teaching courses of Analogue Electronics and Microelectronics. He is author or co-author of more than 30 scientific and technical papers and 2 patents on sensors. He has been Reviewer for several journals and international conferences.

STMicroelectronics (STMICRO) PDF Print
Imaging Division

ImageIn 1999 STMICRO acquired VLSI Vision plc, a company specializing in CMOS imaging solutions based in Edinburgh. This centre of excellence forms the core of STMICRO’s Imaging Division, which has become a world leading CMOS image sensor supplier. Adding the resources and advanced semiconductor technology development capabilities of STMICRO, the Imaging Division has advanced to current technology development and pre-production on 90nm custom CMOS sensor processes.

STMICRO’s Imaging Division has extensive expertise in the areas of analogue and digital integrated circuit design, CMOS imager system design, optical design, optical packaging, software, semiconductor manufacturing and test for high-volume consumer imaging products. STMICRO has now achieved, despite strong competition, a dominant position in the rapidly growing market for personal mobile imaging based on CMOS image sensors, where low power consumption levels and very high light sensitivity are demanded. In addition, STMICRO has proven experience of applying its expertise to the industrialisation of new and emerging technology.

Lindsay Grant is Imaging Process Manager at STMICRO’s centre of competence for CMOS Imaging, and will be the primary interface for imaging process support and consultancy. He has 20 years of experience in semiconductor device physics and process development, and has spent 12 years in wafer fab where he held positions in product, device and process engineering. Currently he works in CMOS technology development for Imaging applications. During the last 6 years he has coordinated the development and introduction of Imaging optimized CMOS process technology, playing a key role in the success of STMICRO's imaging process technology. He has co-authored several imaging papers and is sole author for 1 technology patent. In Feb 2005 he was invited to present at the International Solid-State Conference Forum on Image Sensor Characterisation.

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