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Hi, I have one question here. Is anyone here tried to make a photon counter using Arduino? It is probably that we need to make one for future project, so I want to get some ideas ahead. Thank you
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Hi, I have one question here. Is anyone here tried to make a photon counter using Arduino? It is probably that we need to make one for future project, so I want to get some ideas ahead. Thank you
I highly doubt this is possible. You want to be able to count individual photons? Do you have any idea how precise your equipment would have to be to do that?
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For Arduino doesn't matter what to count, bike speed, button presses, etc.  Have you specific sensor in mind to transform single photon pass into electrical pulse? Photomultiplier may be?
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Counting the photons is the easy part, detecting them and then doing the signal massage to get "nice" pulses out is the hard part.  You might want to look into photomultiplier tubes to detect the photons as a start.

wade
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It's not quite counting individual photons, but a linear CCD would allow you to quantitatively sample light, they're used in an arduino based optical spectrometer:

http://myspectral.com/

They even make a linear CCD shield.  Of course you need to provide your own optics, and mount the thing in something to block out ambient light.  Simpler than providing the high voltages required for photomultiplier tubes etc.

What will you actually be measuring?  Regular light, even very low intensity still contains a lot of photons (red light at 1uW is a stream of approximately 3.5x10^12 photons), so presumably this is for some sort of scintillation/astronomy purpose?
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A $50 Geiger–Müller tube can detect and count single particles of ionizing radiation.  I know there are sensors can do the same for photons (you have two on you right now).  The trick is finding a nice electronic sensor, I know these exist at least in labs.  Counting it is easy, you can use any microcontroller you want.  You could probably use a pulse counter, I know you can with Geiger–Müller tubes.  You could probably design a very simple TTL or CMOS discrete logic circuit to do this too.  The trick is the detector.  It may have to be a chilled CCD or something like that.

Anyway, how are you going to emit single photons so you can test your detector once you have it?
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when i worked at schwans they used a handheld device for swab tests. it had a photomultiplier in it, and i doubt it used a tube because it was small, and would work for a weeks on a single charge. check these out: http://sensl.com/products/silicon-photomultipliers/
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This sounds encouraging:  Single Photon Avalanch Diode

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-photon_avalanche_diode

In optoelectronics the term Single-Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD) (also known as a Geiger-mode APD or G-APD) identifies a class of solid-state photodetectors based on a reverse biased p-n junction in which a photo-generated carrier can trigger an avalanche current due to the impact ionization mechanism. This device is able to detect low intensity signals (down to the single photon) and to signal the arrival times of the photons with a jitter of a few tens of picoseconds.

So you reverse-bias the diode at a certain voltage and when a photo arrives, then it breaks down.
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SPAD are ideal for single photon counting:
http://sapienzalab.org/avalanche-photodiodes/

The Arduino should counts TTL signals coming from the detector with a maximal rate of roughly 10 Million counts/sec, 80 MHz would be ideal. Can the Arduino Due do that? If I am not wrong the Arduino UNO has a 10kc/s limit, but I am not sure about the DUE.


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Is anyone here tried to make a photon counter using Arduino?

Haven't tried it but it is absolutely possible and is actually quite simple: integrate a quantity that's impacted by photons over time. For example, a photoresistor's resistance is driven by the flow of photons. So integrate the voltage over time and you get your photon count.
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that's not photon counting... just light measurement. In order to do photon counting you need to be able to count single photons, and that's a very little light amount.
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just light measurement. In order to do photon counting you need to be able to count single photons, and that's a very little light amount.

Light is made of photons so if you are measuring light, you are necessarily counting photons.
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In physics photon counting refers to the ability to count a single photon or to distinguish between N and N+1 photons. Your photoresistor will be able to see differences in light intensity only if they are so large that they correspond to billions (or more) of photons.

When counting photons usually high repetition rate pulsed lasers are used, such that the electronics has to count at various MHz. What is the maximal counting speed of Arduino UNO and DUE?
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Your photoresistor will be able to see differences in light intensity only if they are so large that they correspond to billions (or more) of photons.

Now, we are getting somewhere. It shows you how important to discuss your sensors.

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When counting photons usually high repetition rate pulsed lasers are used, such that the electronics has to count at various MHz. What is the maximal counting speed of Arduino UNO and DUE?

With 1MIPS avrs, you can easily count into 20Mhz+, without the use of external prescalers. Otherwise, counting into Ghz is quite doable.
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@rockyli1989

Can you tell more about the goal of your future project?
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