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Journal of Biomedical Optics


Thayer School of Engineering


Tissue spectroscopy inside the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system adds a significant value by measuring fast vascular hemoglobin responses or completing spectroscopic identification of diagnostically relevant molecules. Advances in this type of spectroscopy instrumentation have largely focused on fiber coupling into and out of the MRI; however, nonmagnetic detectors can now be placed inside the scanner with signal amplification performed remotely to the high field environment for optimized light detection. In this study, the two possible detector options, such as silicon photodiodes (PD) and silicon photomultipliers (SiPM), were systematically examined for dynamic range and wavelength performance. Results show that PDs offer 108 (160 dB) dynamic range with sensitivity down to 1 pW, whereas SiPMs have 107 (140 dB) dynamic range and sensitivity down to 10 pW. A second major difference is the spectral sensitivity of the two detectors. Here, wavelengths in the 940 nm range are efficiently captured by PDs (but not SiPMs), likely making them the superior choice for broadband spectroscopy guided by MRI.