Single-Photon CMOS Pixel Using Multiple Non-Destructive Signal Sampling

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MDPI paper "Simulations and Design of a Single-Photon CMOS Imaging Pixel Using Multiple Non-Destructive Signal Sampling" by by Konstantin D. Stefanov, Martin J. Prest, Mark Downing, Elizabeth George, Naidu Bezawada, and Andrew D. Holland from The Open University, UK, and European Southern Observatory, Germany, describes a 10um pixel with 0.15e- noise in 180nm process.

"A single-photon CMOS image sensor (CIS) design based on pinned photodiode (PPD) with multiple charge transfers and sampling is described. In the proposed pixel architecture, the photogenerated signal is sampled non-destructively multiple times and the results are averaged. Each signal measurement is statistically independent and by averaging, the electronic readout noise is reduced to a level where single photons can be distinguished reliably. A pixel design using this method was simulated in TCAD and several layouts were generated for a 180-nm CMOS image sensor process. Using simulations, the noise performance of the pixel was determined as a function of the number of samples, sense node capacitance, sampling rate and transistor characteristics. The strengths and limitations of the proposed design are discussed in detail, including the trade-off between noise performance and readout rate and the impact of charge transfer inefficiency (CTI). The projected performance of our first prototype device indicates that single-photon imaging is within reach and could enable ground-breaking performances in many scientific and industrial imaging applications."

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