Nuclear medicine physics
Optical delay encoding for fast timing and detector signal multiplexing in PET
The large number of detector channels in modern positron emission tomography (PET) scanners poses a challenge in terms of readout electronics complexity. Multiplexing schemes are typically implemented to reduce the number of physical readout channels, but often result in performance degradation. Novel methods of multiplexing in PET must be developed to avoid this data degradation. The preservation of fast timing information is especially important for time-of-flight PET.
A new multiplexing scheme based on encoding detector interaction events with a series of extremely fast overlapping optical pulses with precise delays is demonstrated in this work. Encoding events in this way potentially allows many detector channels to be simultaneously encoded onto a single optical fiber that is then read out by a single digitizer. A two channel silicon photomultiplier-based prototype utilizing this optical delay encoding technique along with dual threshold time-over-threshold is demonstrated.
The optical encoding and multiplexing prototype achieves a coincidence time resolution of 160 ps full width at half maximum (FWHM) and an energy resolution of 13.1% FWHM at 511 keV with 3 × 3 × 5 mm3 LYSO crystals. All interaction information for both detectors, including timing, energy, and channel identification, is encoded onto a single optical fiber with little degradation.
Optical delay encoding and multiplexing technology could lead to time-of-flight PET scanners with fewer readout channels and simplified data acquisition systems.