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15 May 2000 How small should pixel size be?
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Pixel design is a key part of image sensor design. After deciding on pixel architecture, a fundamental tradeoff is made to select pixel size. A small pixel size is desirable because it results in a smaller die size and/or higher spatial resolution; a large pixel size is desirable because it results in higher dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratio. Given these two ways to improve image quality and given a set of process and imaging constraints an optimal pixel size exists. It is difficult, however, to analytically determine the optimal pixel size, because the choice depends on many factors, including the sensor parameters, imaging optics and the human perception of image quality. This paper describes a methodology, using a camera simulator and image quality metrics, for determining the optimal pixel size. The methodology is demonstrated for APS implemented in CMOS processes down to 0.18 (mu) technology. For a typical 0.35 (mu) CMOS technology the optimal pixel size is found to be approximately 6.5 micrometers at fill factor of 30%. It is shown that the optimal pixel size scales with technology, btu at slower rate than the technology itself.
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Ting Chen, Peter Bert Catrysse, Abbas El Gamal, and Brian A. Wandell "How small should pixel size be?", Proc. SPIE 3965, Sensors and Camera Systems for Scientific, Industrial, and Digital Photography Applications, (15 May 2000);

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