Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hamamatsu Develops MEMS-based Photomultiplier Tube

While this is not exactly image sensor news, but Hamamatsu Photonics announced a successful development of an ultra-compact, next-generation μPMT (Micro photomultiplier tube). The μPMT is the world’s first PMT to be fabricated through the use of semiconductor processes for MEMS devices. Its prototype is thinner than the smallest PMT that Hamamatsu currently offers. By comparison, the μPMT has only 1/7th the volume and 1/9th the weight. Due to this extremely small size, it is expected that μPMTs will contribute to the development of more compact instruments for medical diagnostics, environmental monitoring, and applications in many other fields.

The μPMT is designed for mass production. Promotion with samples of the uPMT is scheduled to start for research & development in January 2011.


  1. I remember there were also efforts to build vacuum tubes (valves) in MEMS technology. Kinda reminds me of that. Old is gold!.
    (Technology) hybridization/amalgamation may hold the key for future..CCDs in CMOS for instance!

  2. Hello all,

    Can somebody kindly explain to me what part of the device needs to be electro-mechanically actuated ? are we talking about mechanically moving the dynodes ? or something else ?


  3. My guess is that there are no moving parts. MEMS technology might be used for micro-channel fabrication where photo-multiplication can take place under large reverse voltages.

  4. I think one of the potential advantages of MEMS processing is that it's wafer-scale, so it's supposed to be cheap. If PMTs are going to cost less than dollar a tube, it might be an interesting development. The only problem is to reduce their voltage level to a more acceptable in semiconductor industry.

  5. the high voltage in a PMT is not a real problem, because this is voltage is a constant biasing on the different dynodes. The output signal is compatible with micro-electronic chips. The magic thing is that you can have a 120dB with very very low noise and dark current.


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