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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Photon-counting MCP/Timepix detectors for soft X-ray imaging and spectroscopic applications.


Detectors with microchannel plates (MCPs) provide unique capabilities to detect single photons with high spatial (<10 µm) and timing (<25 ps) resolution. Although this detection technology was originally developed for applications with low event rates, recent progress in readout electronics has enabled their operation at substantially higher rates by simultaneous detection of multiple particles. In this study, the potential use of MCP detectors with Timepix readout for soft X-ray imaging and spectroscopic applications where the position and time of each photon needs to be recorded is investigated. The proof-of-principle experiments conducted at the Advanced Light Source demonstrate the capabilities of MCP/Timepix detectors to operate at relatively high input counting rates, paving the way for the application of these detectors in resonance inelastic X-ray scattering and X-ray photon correlation spectroscopy (XPCS) applications. Local count rate saturation was investigated for the MCP/Timepix detector, which requires optimization of acquisition parameters for a specific scattering pattern. A single photon cluster analysis algorithm was developed to eliminate the charge spreading effects in the detector and increase the spatial resolution to subpixel values. Results of these experiments will guide the ongoing development of future MCP devices optimized for soft X-ray photon-counting applications, which should enable XPCS dynamics measurements down to sub-microsecond timescales.

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