Digital count summing vs analog charge summing for photon counting detectors: A performance simulation study

Scott S. Hsieh, Martin Sjolin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: Charge sharing is a significant problem for CdTe-based photon counting detectors (PCDs) and can cause high-energy photons to be misclassified as one or more low-energy events. Charge sharing is especially problematic in PCDs for CT because the high flux necessitates small pixels, which increase the magnitude of charge sharing. Analog charge summing (ACS) is a powerful solution to reduce spectral distortion arising from charge sharing but may be difficult to implement. We investigate correction of the signal after digitization by the comparator (“digital count summing”), which is only able to correct a subset of charge sharing events but may have implementation advantages. We compare and quantify the relative performance of digital and ACS in simulations. Methods: Transport of photons in CdTe was modeled using Monte Carlo simulations. Energy deposited in the CdTe substrate was converted to electrical charges of a predetermined shape, and all charges within the detector pixel are assumed to be perfectly collected. In ACS, the maximum charge received over any 2 × 2 block of pixels was grouped together prior to digitization. In digital count summing (DCS), the charge was digitized in each pixel, and subsequently, adjacent pixels that detected events grouped their charge to record a single, higher energy event. All simulations were performed at the limit of low flux (no pileup). The default tube voltage was 120 kVp, object thickness was 20 cm of water, pixel pitch was 250 μm, and charge cloud modeled as a Gaussian with σ = 40 μm. Variation of these parameters was examined in a sensitivity analysis. Results: Detectors that used no correction, DCS, and ACS misclassified 51%, 39%, and 15% of incident photons, respectively. For iodine basis material imaging, DCS exhibited 100% greater dose efficiency compared to uncorrected, and ACS exhibited an additional 111% greater dose efficiency compared to digital charge summing. For a nonspectral task, the dose efficiency improvement as estimated by improvement of zero-frequency detective quantum efficiency, DQE(0) was 10% for DCS compared to uncorrected and 10% for ACS compared to DCS. A sensitivity analysis showed that DCS generally achieved half the benefit of ACS over a range of conditions, although the benefit was markedly less if the charge cloud was instead modeled as a small sphere. Conclusions: Summing of counts after digitization may be a simpler alternative to summing of charge prior to digitization due to the relative complexity of analog circuit design. Over most conditions studied, it provides roughly half the benefit of ACS and may offer certain implementation advantages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4085-4093
Number of pages9
JournalMedical physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • charge sharing
  • charge summing
  • dual energy
  • photon counting detectors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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