ISLAMABAD                -               Researchers have developed the first megapixel photon-counting camera based on new-generation image sensor technology that uses single-photon avalanche diodes (SPADs). The new camera can detect single photons of light at unprecedented speeds, a capability that could advance applications that require fast acquisition of 3D images such as augmented reality and LiDAR systems for autonomous vehicles.  “Thanks to its high resolution and ability to measure depth, this new camera could make virtual reality more realistic and let you interact with augmented reality information in a more seamless manner,” said Edoardo Charbon from the Advanced Quantum Architecture Laboratory (AQUALab) at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.

Charbon developed the idea for the new camera and is the founder and head of AQUALab, where the image sensor was designed. In Optica, The Optical Society’s (OSA) journal for high-impact research, the researchers describe how they created one of the smallest SPAD pixels ever devised and reduced the power consumption of each pixel to less than 1 microwatt while maintaining speed and timing precision. The new camera can acquire images at up to 24,000 frames per second. For comparison, 30 frames per second is the standard rate used to record video for television.