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PicoHarp 300 Photon Counting System
Dec 2006
PicoQuant GmbHRequest Info
BERLIN, Dec. 4, 2006 -- A new data-acquisition software is now available for the PicoHarp 300 time-correlated single-photon counting system from PicoQuant. The new version 2.0 provides several new features in the user interface as well as a real-time correlator for fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. It also supports control for further monochromator models, permitting the automated recording of time-resolved emission spectra.

The new version also provides device drivers for the latest 64-bit versions of Windows for the AMD x64 architecture. It also allows multidetector routing with a new router model, the PHR 800, which supports predetermined motion time systems as well as NIM- (10 ns. duration) and TTL-level (100 ns duration) single-photon avalanche diode detectors.

The software also provides improvements for the instrument's time-tagged time-resolved (TTTR) mode, notably a real-time correlator. External markers for synchronization with other processes can also be recorded in TTTR mode. This provides synchronization with virtually all existing imaging devices, including laser scanning microscopes. Dedicated upgrade kits for widespread microscope models are available, enabling recording if fluorescence lifetime images with these systems at virtually any resolution and size.

The PicoHarp is based on an entirely new time digitizer with 4-picosecond resolution, the shortest "dead time" of any comparable instrument, a processing rate of up to 10 million counts per second and an extremely low differential nonlinearity. It features two identical input channels that can operate independently, but with a common crystal time base, so that in addition to classical TCSPC histograms for the measurement of fluorescence decays, picosecond coincidence correlations can be obtained -- making it well-suited for single molecule spectroscopy and quantum cryptography.

A high timing resolution qualifies the system for use with high-resolution detectors such as microchannel plate photomultiplier tubes; enabling time resolutions of 30 ps.

The PicoHarp can be used with any common single-photon detector. Fully software controlled constant fraction discriminators (CFD) in both input channels ensure precise and optimized timing for a wide variety of detectors. Optional accessories for signal conditioning, such as pre-amplifiers, attenuators and signal inverters, allow the adaption to virtually all signal sources practically encountered in the lab. Sync/excitation sources can be as fast as 80 MHz, but even very slow sources can be used efficiently, with multistop acquisition on the detector channel. The on-board histogramming mode provides up to 65536 bins, resulting in a time span of 262 ns. The base resolution of 4 ps can be binned down to 8, 16, 32, and 512 ps in hardware, thereby providing histogram time spans up to 33 µs. Time spans in time-tagged mode are virtually unlimited if software processing is done in 64-bit numbers, PicoQuant said.

The PicoHarp system is designed as a USB 2.0 plug-and-play device," allowing control and data acquisition from a regular desktop computer or notebook PC. The USB interface is designed very efficiently, so that a sustained TTTR mode throughput of 5 million counts per second can be guaranteed for any measurement. Version 2.0 of the system software is provided free to all owners of a PicoHarp 300.

For more information, visit:; e-mail:

PicoQuant GmbH
Rudower Chaussee 29
12489 Berlin, GERMANY
Phone: (49-30) 6392-6560
Fax: (49-30) 6392-6561


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