MCS8A 80 ps per time bin, multiple-event time digitizer

80 ps per time bin, multiple-event time digitizer (TDC) MCS8A

It can be used in ultra-fast Multi-scaler and TOF systems, in Time-of-Flight mass-spectrometry and time-resolved single ion- or photon counting, fluorescence livetime imaging microscopy (FLIM). Pulse-width evaluation with 80 ps precision enables the user to calculate the area, the pulse height of the detector pulse but also if multiple events have occured - multiple events have a broader pulse width than single pulses.

In operation the sweep is started by a user-supplied start (trigger) pulse. Then subsequent events detected at the stop inputs are recorded, each in a specific time bin corresponding to the time of arrival relative to the start pulse. Compared to non-multi-hit devices, the MCS8A can evaluate stop events at a rate of 12.5 GHz state changes/sec, in the pulse width mode at 6.25 GHz. The MCS8A is designed with fully digital circuitry capable of accepting at least 131.000 events at peak (burst) input rates of up-to 12.5 Gbit per second. Each input has an own fast 2.56 ns x 4k FIFO. Six decoder machines working in parallel enable 300 MHz count rate in sum on all inputs until the large 4GB FIFO is full.

The MCS8A has been optimized for the best possible pulse pair resolving while providing state-of-the-art time resolution available in digital designs. Nine built-in discriminators can be adjusted for a wide range of signal levels. The single sweep time range enables the user to take data of up to 8.3 days (53 bit setting) or 6 min (42 bit setting with 16 TAG bits enabled), with a time resolution of 80 ps.

An oven-stabilized clock is optional, an external clock input enables using high stability external clock sources such as a GPS or rubidium disciplined oscillator.

The FIFO memory buffer and USB 3.0 interface enable the MCS8A to continuously transfer data at rates of approx. 240 MB per second.

Selection of data width per event of 32 bit or 64 bit allows for optimized FIFO and USB bandwidth usage.

In endless / wrap-around mode sweep repetitions with zero end-of-sweep dead time can be accommodated.

The MCS8A is designed with "state-of-the-art" components which offer excellent performance and reliability.

The high-performance hardware is matched by a sophisticated WINDOWS-based software delivered with each MCS8A - providing a powerful graphical user interface for setup, datatransfer and spectral data display.

Using Wine it is possible to run the Windows software on LINUX systems.

Ordering Information
ModelDescriptionOrder No.
MCS8AGOLD 8 input 12.5 GHz Multiscaler, 80 ps, 4GB Fifo, USB 3.0, DLL, TAG + COUNT, TCPIP Control MCS8AGOLD
MCS8AxT0 x input, x=2..8, 12.5 GHz Multiscaler 80 ps, 2GB, USB 3.0, field upgrade MCS8AxT0
MCS8AxT1 x input, x=2..8, 10 GHz Multiscaler, 100 ps, 2GB, USB 3.0, field upgrade MCS8AxT1
MCS8AxT2 x input, x=2..8, 10 GHz Multiscaler, 200 ps, 2GB, USB 3.0, field upgrade MCS8AxT2
MCS8AxT4 x input, x=2..8, 10 GHz Multiscaler, 400 ps, 2GB, USB 3.0, field upgrade MCS8AxT4
MCS8AxT8 x input, x=2..8, 10 GHz Multiscaler, 800 ps, 2GB, USB 3.0, field upgrade MCS8AxT8
MCS8DxTy x input, x=2..8, 12.5 GHz Multiscaler, y=0,1,2,4,8, 80 ps..800 ps, 1GB Fifo, no TAG, no oven MCS8DxTy
MCS8A1Ty 1+1 input, 10 (12.5) GHz Multiscaler, y=0,1,2,4,8, 80 ps..800 ps, 2GB, USB 3.0, field upgrade MCS8A1Ty
MCS8D1Ty 1+1 input, 10 (12.5) GHz Multiscaler, y=0,1,2,4,8, 80 ps..800 ps, 1GB Fifo, no TAG, no oven MCS8D1Ty
MCS8OVX oven controlled ref.oscillator (higher stability) for “D” models (included in all “A”) MCS8OVX
MCS8UP Additional cost for in-field upgrade MCS8UP
MCS8TAG 16it TAG input option (included in all “A” models) MCS8TAG
MCS8FIFO2 FIFO expansion 1 GB → 2 GB (included in all “A” models) MCS8FIFO2
MCS8FIFO4 FIFO expansion 1 GB → 4 GB MCS8FIFO4
MCS8COUNT 6 x 200 MHz counter (48 bit) MCS8COUNT
MCS8S03 Remote Control option TCP/IP (LAN) MCS8S03
MCS8DLL DLL for LabVIEW/“C“/Visual Basic (32 + 64 bit) for MCS8 MCS8DLL
MPA4-C1 TAG / Counter Cable, converts D-SUB 37 to 18 separate BNC cables, 1.5m MCS8C1
MPA4-C2 TAG / Counter Cable, converts D-SUB 37 to 18 separate Lemo cables, 1.5m MCS8C2
MCS8-40ps Option 40 ps resolution, 4x ext. Splitter, channel pairing, 1 start, 3 stop inputs MCS840P

The main features are:

• Exceptionally high count rate Time Spectrometry System with 80 ps time resolution
• 8 STOP input channels
• Time range from nanoseconds to 8.3 days with 80 ps time resolution (53 bit dynamic range)
• Stop pulses are evaluated either for rising, falling edge or both at 12.5 GHz. This allows to obtain data on pulse-width with 80 ps precision
• Minimum time between rising and falling edge is 80 ps
• Maximum burst input rates up to 12.5 GHz
• Maximum permanent count rate up to 300 MHz in sum on all inputs
• High data transfer rate to PC by USB 3.0
• Six operating modes: Stop after sweep,sequential, multi start recording, pulse width(TOT - time over threshold and TUT - timebelow threshold) and time interval.
• Fully digital design, no software correctionsrequired
• Start- and Stop-Inputs via built-in –2...+3Vdiscriminators (-1...+1.5V threshold level adjustable in steps of 1mV)
• No dead time between time bins, No missed events, No double counting
• On-board 4k x 2.56 ns fast FIFO on each input for ultra fast data acquisition. Secondary 1GB FIFO (2GB, 4GB opt.) to buffer list-mode or on-line histogramming data transfer into the PC
• Simultaneous acquisition & data transfer toPC
• On-line sweep summing
• Two versatile, software configurable Sync outputs for triggering of external devices (FAST NIM, TTL)
• Tag inputs (16) with 2.56 ns time resolution (i.e. for sequential data acquisition, multi-detector configurations, etc
• Presettable 48 bit sweep counter; programmable acquisition delay, programmable number of time bins and programmable trigger hold-off after sweep
• User configurable “GO”-line for experiment synchronisation (compatible with other FAST ComTec devices)
• 8-bit digital I/O port
• Optional six 200 MHz counters for monitoring

Typical applications are:

  • TOF Time-of-Flight Spectrometry with exceptional dynamic-range and time resolution
  • Position Sensitive Detectors (delay line type: start, 2 x 2 delay signals, time / anode)
  • Multi-scaling with very high burst count rates
  • Pulse width evaluation with 80 ps precision
  • Static TOF SIMS secondary electron Mass-spectrometry - used for example in analyzing molecules from biological samples
  • Quantum Cryptography research
  • Fluorescence livetime imaging microscopy (FLIM)
  • Laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy in biological samples
  • Laser-induced photo-electron spectrometry to analyze the electronic state
    of gas and solid state samples
  • Single photon / single molecule counting
  • Multi-level measurements e.g.for mass spectroscopy with very strong (pile up) lines by pairing input channels
  • LIDAR (1.2 cm spatial resolution)
  • Eight - channel ultra high speed and huge memory logic analyzer 
    Evaluation of logic circuits / search for spurious signals
  • "Area measurement" in high energy physics 
    by width measurement of pulses with constant shape
  • Multiparameter / correlation / coincidence measurements

TOF Mass Spectrometer simplified diagramm

A simplified diagramm of a LIDAR setup

Typical position sensitive detector read out

Typical remote setup (up to 50 m distance)

A remote / optical insulated setup up to 50 m distance can be implemented by a USB-3 / optical line converter as shown in this setup. The red cable is the fiber cable, the black box is the PC.