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

Anton S. Tremsin, John V. Vallerga, Oswald H.W. Siegmund, Justin Woods, Lance E. De Long, Jeffrey T. Hastings, Roland J. Koch, Sophie A. Morley, Yi De Chuang, Sujoy Roy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1069-1080
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Synchrotron Radiation
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The MCP/Timepix detector used in these experiments was developed at the University of California at Berkeley in collaboration with Techne instruments, Oakland, CA, USA, with great help from the Medipix collaboration, in particular with the help of our colleagues from Advacam s.r.o. and Advacam Oy, the Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics, Czech Technical University in Prague, NiKHEF and the entire team of Medipix/Timepix chip designers at CERN. The work on the MCP/Timepix detector at the University of California was partially funded through the research grants by the US Department of Energy (DOE), National Science Foundation and National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The authors would like to acknowledge the generous donation of the Vertex FPGA and design tools by Xilinx Inc. of San Jose, California, through their Xilinx University Program. The development of the Timepix based soft X-ray detector for correlation spectroscopy is supported by the DOE (award RoyTimepixDetector). This research used resources of the Advanced Light Source, which is a DOE Office of Science User Facility (contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231). Sample fabrication was supported by the US DOE, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences (award No.DE-SC0016519). Use of the Center for Nanoscale Materials, an Office of Science user facility, was supported by the US DOE, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences (contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357). This work was performed in part at the University of Kentucky Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering and Center for Advanced Materials, members of the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI), which is supported by the National Science Foundation (contract No. ECCS-2025075).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 International Union of Crystallography. All rights reserved.


  • Microchannel plates
  • Photon counting
  • Soft X-ray detectors
  • Timepix
  • X-ray photon correlation spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Instrumentation


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