Photon Counting and Timing Instrumentation

The PicoQuant group was founded in 1996 to develop robust, compact, and easy to use time-resolved instrumentation and systems.

Our intention is to offer state-of-the-art technology, which has been co-developed and tested by renowned researchers, at a price affordable to scientific groups and cost sensitive industry.

PicoQuant's wide range of products for photon counting includes several high-end modules for time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) and event timing, single photon sensitive detectors and specialized analysis software for the evaluation of (time-resolved) fluorescence measurements.

TCSPC and Time Tagging Electronics

PicoQuant offers several modules for Time-Correlated Single Photon Counting (TCSPC), Multi-Channel Scaling (MCS), coincidence correlations, or event timing with temporal resolutions between picoseconds and milliseconds. Single channel as well as multichannel versions with either USB or PCIe interface can be provided. Their high quality and reliability are expressed by a unique 5-year limited warranty.

HydraHarp 400

Multichannel Picosecond Event Timer & TCSPC Module

Up to 8 independent input channels and common sync channel (up to 150 MHz)

65536 histogram bins per channel, minimum width 1 ps

Time tagging with sustained count rates up to 40 Mcps

Histogrammer measurement ranges from 65 ns to 2.19 s

PicoHarp 300

Stand-alone TCSPC Module with USB Interface

Two identical synchronized but independent input channels

65536 histogram time bins, minimum width 4 ps

Time tagging with sustained count rates up to 5 Mcps

Histogrammer measurement range from 260 ns to 33 µs (depending on resolution)

TimeHarp 260

TCSPC and MCS board with PCIe interface

One or two independent input channels and common synch channel (up to 100 MHz)

Two models with either 25 ps (PICO model) or 250 ps (NANO model) base resolution

"Long range mode" option for PICO model with 2.5 ns base resolution

Ultra short dead time (< 25 ns for PICO model, < 2 ns for NANO model)

Photon Counting Detectors

The available photon counting detectors include photomultiplier tubes (PMT), Hybrid photomultiplier detectors (HPD) and Single Photon Avalanche Diodes (SPAD) that cover different spectral ranges between the UV and the NIR. All detectors feature timing resolutions in the picosecond range, depending on model and operating conditions. The following table gives a rough overview about the key parameters.

PMA Hybrid Series

Hybrid Photomultiplier Detector Assembly

Timing resolution down to < 50 ps (FWHM, cathode dependent)

Detection efficiency up to 45% (cathode dependent)

Active area up to 6 mm

Negligible afterpulsing

NEW: analog output provides positive voltage proportional to count rate

NEW: -07 and -42 cathodes with spectral ranges between 220 and 870 nm, detection efficiency up to 25 %

PMA Series

Photomultiplier Detector Assembly

Timing resolution < 180 ps (FWHM)

Quantum efficiencies up to 40% (cathode dependent)

Spectral ranges from 185 nm to 920 nm available

Optional thermoelectric cooler

PDM Series

Single Photon Avalanche Diodes

Timing resolution down to < 50 ps (FWHM)

Detection efficiency up to 49 %

Different active areas: 20, 50, and 100 µm

Ultra stable at high count rates


PicoQuant offers specialized software for the analysis of fluorescence measurements. This includes a software for global fluorescence decay data analysis as well as a specialized imaging and correlation software, which supports methods like FLIM and FLIM-FRET, FCS, FCCS, FLCS, anisotropy and the analysis of fluorescence time traces.

SymPhoTime 64

Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging and Correlation Software

Point, 2D, and 3D TTTR data acquisition with online preview of FLIM, FCS, time-traces, or TCSPC histograms


FCS, FCCS, FLCS, PIE-FCS, coincidence correlation, total correlation

FRET, PIE-FRET, fluorescence time traces, anisotropy


Global Fluorescence Decay Data Analysis Software

Tail fitting or iterative reconvolution, maximum likelihood estimation

Exponential decay models up to 4th order

Lifetime distribution models (Gaussian, Lorentzian, Stretched Exponentials)

Anisotropy analysis with an exponential decay model up to 4th order


Accessories for photon counting experiments include a router for the PicoHarp 300 TCSPC module, a specialized dual channel power supply for SPADs, a signal delayer with picosecond resolution and a trigger diode. Signal conditioners (inverter, attenuator, pre-amplifier or splitter) as well as signal cables can also be provided.

PHR 800

Universal 4-channel detector router for the PicoHarp 300

Allows simultaneous measurement of 4 detector signals

Adjustable input polarity and trigger threshold

Predefined settings for TTL or NIM signals provided by SPAD detectors

Optional Constant Fraction Discriminators for PMTs, Hybrid-PMTs and MCP-PMTs

DSN 102

Dual SPAD Power Supply

Two-channel power supply for Single Photon Avalanche Diodes (SPAD)

Safety shut-down to prevent SPAD degradation

Integrated counter

Acoustic monitoring and warning


Picosecond Delayer

50 ns maximum delay range, 10 ps step

TTL and NIM output pulses

Up to 390 MHz bandwidth (NIM output)

Programmable output width

TDA 200

Trigger Diode Assembly

Compact design

Fall time typ. 250 ps

Pulse width as short as 500 ps (FWHM)

Spectral range from 350 to 1100 nm

PAM 102

Pre-Amplifier Module

Fast rise time / wide bandwidth

Low jitter

Ideal for low output fast photon detectors like MCP and PMT

3 dB bandwidth up to 1.8 GHz

Adapters, Splitters, Cables

Various accessories for photon counting setups

Signal attenuators and inverter

TTL to NIM converter

Power splitter

Signal cables

Quantum Random Number Generator

The Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG) is based on the quantum randomness of photon arrival times. It offers substantially higher bit rates than previous solutions available to the public, which has become possible by exploiting most recent photon timing instrumentation and state-of-the-art data processing in hardware.


Quantum Random Number Generator

Quantum Random Number Generator based on photon arrival times

Bit rate: 150 Mbits/s

Interface: USB 2.0

Software: driver and user library (DLL) for Windows XP, Vista and 7

DLL demos and simple GUI for data retrieval to files