Dual-ended readout of bismuth germanate to improve timing resolution in time-of-flight PET

Sun Il Kwon, Emilie Roncali, Alberto Gola, Giovanni Paternoster, Claudio Piemonte, Simon R Cherry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The scintillator bismuth germanate (BGO) has attractive properties for positron emission tomography (PET) systems such as high stopping power, high photo-fraction, and relatively low cost. However, its moderate scintillation light yield and slow rise and decay time compared to lutetium (yttrium) oxyorthosilicate (L(Y)SO) results in a degradation of coincidence timing resolution when scintillation photons are used for timing. Recently, it has been reported that the coincidence timing resolution of BGO can be improved by detecting Cerenkov photons, while scintillation photons still provide energy information. However, the measured coincidence timing spectrum showed much longer tails compared to the single Gaussian distribution. Because of this, TOF PET detectors based on BGO will perform worse than the full width at half maximum (FWHM) of the distribution, which is the most common metric for timing resolution, would suggest. From simulation studies, during the first few picoseconds, BGO generates ~16 Cerenkov photons per photoelectric interaction, following a 511 keV gamma ray interaction, while the probability of producing a scintillation photon during the first few picoseconds is very small. Therefore, when we configure a BGO crystal with dual-ended readout, the first arriving photons among the two opposing SiPMs are most likely Cerenkov photons, and by selecting the appropriate SiPM, an improvement in coincidence timing resolution can be achieved. In this study, both ends of a 3 -3 -20 mm3 BGO crystal were coupled to NUV-HD SiPMs. Trigger time differences from the dual-ended readout of BGO were widely distributed due to detecting a mixture of prompt Cerenkov and scintillation photons on both SiPMs. When using trigger times from only a single SiPM, the estimated coincidence timing resolution between two identical BGO detectors was 463 ps FWHM and 1463 ps FWTM. In contrast, when using trigger times from both SiPMs, the estimated coincidence timing resolution was 399 ps FWHM and 936 ps FWTM with no loss of events. Based on a recent report, high-bandwidth amplifiers were implemented and shown to further improve the estimated coincidence timing resolution to 331 ps FWHM and 923 ps FWTM. In summary, the coincidence timing resolution of BGO, most notably the FWTM, was significantly improved using time information from the dual-ended readout.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105007
JournalPhysics in medicine and biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 10 2019


  • bismuth germanate (BGO)
  • Cerenkov (Cherenkov)
  • positron emission tomography (PET)
  • silicon photomultipliers (SiPM)
  • time-of-flight (TOF)
  • timing resolution, depth-of-interaction (DOI)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Dual-ended readout of bismuth germanate to improve timing resolution in time-of-flight PET'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this