PhotonLab, Inc. is developing a novel photosensor technology and a family of products under the brand ABALONE in the field of light detection and radiation monitoring, for use in academic research in fundamental sciences, homeland security and medical imaging.
The ABALONE Technology was specifically invented for inexpensive mass-production of large area photosensors.
The invention of a photosensor configuration that could satisfy the unusual set of requirements imposed by the mass-production technology proved to be particularly challenging. The ABALONE Photosensor comprises only 3 components, all made of glass or fused silica (or a dielectric crystal). Most of my colleagues are surprised, if not even shocked, when they learn that there are no electrodes, no feedthroughs, no ceramics, and no silicon among the ABALONE components! In a rater non-trivial way, that has been necessary for our continuous-line production, which is based on the standard thin-film deposition technology. Consequently, an ABALONE photosensor may be produced at a very small fraction of the cost of a photomultiplier tube (PMT), while the innovative ABALONE flat-panel integration into large-area detectors is even more cost- effective.
- Fundamental Science: Low-cost and High-quality Large-area photosensors. Detection of Rare Phenomena and Particles in Nuclear, Particle and Astro-Particle Physics.
- Functional Medical Imaging: Low-Dose PET Scanners; Gamma Cameras.
- Homeland Security: Ultrasensitive Modular Radiation Detectors.
The value of the novel ABALONE Photosensor Technology lies in its superior performance and cost- effectiveness in comparison to standard photomultiplier tubes. This should enable the IceCube Cosmic
Neutrino Experiment (South Pole site)—currently our lead customer/partner—to construct an unprecedentedly large and sensitive next-generation detector, and open a ‘new window to the Universe.’ The specific goal of this project has been to develop the Tandem-ABALONE Detector Module to enable a tenfold extension of the IceCube neutrino experiment. The extremely low temperature and high pressure within the 2450 m deep holes in ice at the IceCube site require profound modifications of the baseline design, which present a significant technological challenge. The most disruptive modification to the baseline concept is in the voltage reversal – Tandem-ABALONE
Detector Modules should be electrically grounded on the outside, which poses a particularly challenging multi-faceted technical hurdle. Some of the main technical challenges are:
- Since the outside surface is electrically grounded, the center must be maintained at high voltage.
- It is thus necessary to displace the two Geiger-mode Avalanche Photodiodes (G-APDs) from the Windowlets in the center to a grounded and shielding area, at the periphery of the sensor.
- Photons produced in the Windowlets will have to be optically conducted to the G-APDs by suitably constructed Light Guides.
- Given the narrow spacing between the two back-to-back oriented ABALONE units in the Tandem configuration, as well as the passage of the electrostatic flux through the light guides, their design will be highly non-trivial. No conductive reflector surfaces are allowed in this environment.
- The high voltage should be generated within that narrow spacing.
- All elements comprising a Tandem unit as well as all of their connections should be thermally stable down to about -600 C (Antarctic ice).
UC Davis Lab Website- http://ferenc.physics.ucdavis.edu/WebSite1/