ECE Seminar: Quanta Image Sensor: Every Photon Counts

Apr 12

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - 1:15pm to 2:15pm


Dr. Eric Fossum, Professor of Engineering and Director, PhD Innovation Program, Thayler School of Engineering

The Quanta Image Sensor (QIS) is a possible paradigm shift in solid-state image sensors. Conceptually, the QIS counts photons one at a time using small pixels with low full-well capacity and single-photoelectron sensitivity. This binary data is collected and transformed into gray scale images by post-acquisition digital image processing. In recent years, the QIS has moved from concept to experimental devices. A 1Mpixel QIS has been designed and fabricated in a commercial stacked, backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor 65/45nm node process. The device, with 1.1um shared-readout pixel pitch, has been shown to have read noise as low as 0.172e- rms at room temperature without the use of avalanche multiplication, and is successfully readout at 1040fps using a cluster-parallel readout architecture. Each binary bit represents the detection or absence of a photoelectron. The QIS technology is evolved from the CMOS image sensor currently incorporated into billions of cameras each year. In a preamble to the QIS part of the talk, the invention and development of the CMOS image sensor technology at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech, and by the spinoff company Photobit will be discussed.