A method of serially transferring annihilation information in a compact positron emission tomography (PET) scanner includes generating a time signal representing a time-of-occurrence of an annihilation event, generating an address signal representing a channel detecting the annihilation event, and generating a channel signal including the time and address signals. The method also includes generating a composite signal including the channel signal and another similarly generated channel signal concerning another annihilation event. An apparatus that serially transfers annihilation information includes a time signal generator, address signal generator, channel signal generator, and composite signal generator. The time signal is asynchronous and the address signal is synchronous to a clock signal. A PET scanner includes a scintillation array, detection array, front-end array, and a serial encoder. The serial encoders include the time signal generator, address signal generator, channel signal generator, and composite signal generator.