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Single Photon Detection with Photomultipliers


Unless you are an audiophile, you likely think of tubes as mostly relegated to people who work on old technology. However, photomultiplier tubes are still useful compared to more modern sensors, and [Jaynes Network] has a look into how they work, especially with scintillating detectors.

The RCA photomultiplier he examines has ten stages and can detect even a single photon. Combined with a scintillating detector, they make good radiation detectors.

We can’t help but smile when we hear someone obviously in love with the engineering behind a tube like this. We get it. The inside of the tube is crowded, so it is hard to identify the dynodes and other portions, but some diagrams make it readily apparent how the tube does its job.

We were impressed with how good the documentation that came with the tube looked, considering its age. We mean the condition it was in. The document itself was obviously a reproduction of a typewritten document with hand-drawn figures and graphs.

We were hoping for some footage of the tube in action, but we’ll have to wait for a future video. We are betting that is coming, though. Although there are some solid-state detectors, they are not suitable for all applications. There was a time, though, when the tubes were in many applications, including X-ray scanners and photography equipment.

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