We are developing an ultrahigh-speed, high-sensitivity broadcast camera that is capable of capturing clear, smooth slow-motion videos even where lighting is limited, such as at professional baseball games played at night. In earlier work, we developed an ultrahigh-speed broadcast color camera<sup>1</sup>) using three 80,000-pixel ultrahigh-speed, highsensitivity CCDs<sup>2</sup>). This camera had about ten times the sensitivity of standard high-speed cameras, and enabled an entirely new style of presentation for sports broadcasts and science programs. Most notably, increasing the pixel count is crucially important for applying ultrahigh-speed, high-sensitivity CCDs to HDTV broadcasting. This paper provides a summary of our experimental development aimed at improving the resolution of CCD even further: a new ultrahigh-speed high-sensitivity CCD that increases the pixel count four-fold to 300,000 pixels.
An image sensor for an ultra-high-speed video camera was developed. The maximum frame rate, the pixel count and the number of consecutive frames are 1,000,000 fps, 720 x 410 (= 295,200) pixels, and 144 frames. A micro lens array will be attached on the chip, which increases the fill factor to about 50%. In addition to the ultra-high-speed image capturing operation to store image signals in the in-situ storage area adjacent to each pixel, standard parallel readout operation at 1,000 fps for full frame readout is also introduced with sixteen readout taps, for which the image signals are transferred to and stored in a storage device with a large capacity equipped outside the sensor. The aspect ratio of the frame is about 16 : 9, which is equal to that of the HDTV format. Therefore, a video camera with four sensors of the ISIS-V4, which are arranged to form the Bayer’s color filter array, realizes an ultra-high-speed video camera of a semi-HDTV format.
A new high-speed CCD-sensor, capable of capturing 103 consecutive images at a speed of 1 million frames per second, was developed by the authors. To reach this high frame-rate, 103 CCD-storage-cells are placed next to each image-pixel. Sensors utilizing this on-chip-memory-concept can be called In-situ Storage Image Sensor or ISIS. The ISIS is build in standard CCD-technology. To check if this technology could be used for an ISIS, a test sensor called ISIS V1 was designed first. The ISIS V1 is just a simple modification of an existing standard CCD-sensor and it is capable of taking 17 consecutive images. The new sensor called ISIS V2 is a dedicated design in the existing technology. It is equipped with storage CCD-cells that are also used in the standard CCD-sensor, large light-sensitive pixels, an overwriting mechanism to drain old image information and a CCD-switch to use a part of the storage cells also as vertical read-out registers. Nevertheless, the new parts in the architecture had to be simulated by a 3-D device simulator. Simulation results and characteristic parameters of the ISIS-CCD as well as applications of the camera are given.
Presented in this paper is an outline of the R and D activities on high-speed video cameras, which have been done in Kinki University since more than ten years ago, and are currently proceeded as an international cooperative project with University of Applied Sciences Osnabruck and other organizations. Extensive marketing researches have been done, (1) on user's requirements on high-speed multi-framing and video cameras by questionnaires and hearings, and (2) on current availability of the cameras of this sort by search of journals and websites. Both of them support necessity of development of a high-speed video camera of more than 1 million fps. A video camera of 4,500 fps with parallel readout was developed in 1991. A video camera with triple sensors was developed in 1996. The sensor is the same one as developed for the previous camera. The frame rate is 50 million fps for triple-framing and 4,500 fps for triple-light-wave framing, including color image capturing. Idea on a video camera of 1 million fps with an ISIS, In-situ Storage Image Sensor, was proposed in 1993 at first, and has been continuously improved. A test sensor was developed in early 2000, and successfully captured images at 62,500 fps. Currently, design of a prototype ISIS is going on, and, hopefully, will be fabricated in near future. Epoch-making cameras in history of development of high-speed video cameras by other persons are also briefly reviewed.