An experimental camera system equipped with a novel CMOS image sensor suitable for ground-based astronomy that has both destructive and non-destructive readout capability will be described and the performance characteristics including readout noise, dark current, quantum efficiency, will be given. The optimum data collection algorithms to achieve reduced effective readout noise, cosmic ray rejection, and expanded dynamic range will be described. The ability to use destructive readout in select rows to acquire data for telescope guiding while the main part of the sensor is read using non-destructive readout for main image acquisition will be discussed.
ImagerLabs has advanced its patented next generation imaging technology called the Hybrid Imaging Technology (HIT) that offers scientific quality performance. The key to the HIT is the merging of the CCD and CMOS technologies through hybridization rather than process integration. HIT offers exceptional QE, fill factor, broad spectral response and very low noise properties of the CCD. In addition, it provides the very high-speed readout, low power, high linearity and high integration capability of CMOS sensors. In this work, we present the benefits, and update the latest advances in the performance of this exciting technology.
Readout noise levels of under 1 electron have long been a goal for the FPA community. In the quest to enhance the FPA sensitivity, various approaches have been attempted ranging from the exotic Photo-multiplier tubes, Image Intensifier tubes, Avalanche photo diodes, and now the on-chip avalanche charge amplification technologies from the CCD manufacturers. While these techniques reduce the readout noise, each offers a set of compromises that negatively affect the overall performance of the sensor in parameters such as power dissipation, dynamic range, uniformity or system complexity.
In this work, we overview the benefits and tradeoffs of each approach, and introduce a new technique based on ImagerLabs’ exclusive HIT technology which promises sub-electron read noise and other benefits without the tradeoffs of the other noise reduction techniques.
This paper describes a novel area detector for direct conversion and readout of the x-ray energy that eliminates multiple conversions and coupling stages which degrade performance. The pixel array and readout electronics are fabricated on the same piece of silicon. The detector consists of a uniform layer (approximately 300 micrometers) of amorphous selenium alloy vapor-deposited on an electronic readout array fabricated using conventional complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS). The CMOS array features 66 micrometer pixels in a 1024 X 832 array providing a 5.5 X 6.75 cm image area. Each pixel has active circuitry including signal amplification, pixel selection and reset, while peripheral circuitry on one end of the array provides shift registers, sample and hold and multiplexing. The CMOS readout array was fabricated at a standard facility on a 10-cm diameter silicon wafer using 2 micrometer CMOS process. Fifteen separate image sensors were assembled for evaluation in a 3 X 5 format to provide a 20 X 27 cm composite field of view. Missing data between sensors is recovered by acquiring three sub-exposures, between which the array is translated diagonally approximately 2 mm. Total exposure time for an average breast is less than one second. Conversion efficiency was found to be approximately 120 electrons per absorbed x-ray (19 keV average). Electronic readout noise was measured to be 2.4 ADU corresponding to approximately 500 electrons. Detective quantum efficiency was found to be 0.65 at low spatial frequency (0.25 lp/mm) and at 0.2 at high spatial frequency (8 lp/mm) for x-ray fluence ranging from 5 - 35 mR. Images of an ACR phantom show visualization of all of the fibers, specks and masses when displayed with a linear lookup table on a high-resolution monitor. These studies demonstrated that there is a slight but measurable image retention evident as 'ghost' images. The two most effective means to reduce this effect are flushing the sensors with infrared light or x-rays between exposures and reversing the applied voltage on the selenium layer. A number of improvements designed to increase sensitivity and reduce noise also have been identified and are being implemented. Sample images were acquired from four volunteer human subjects at exposure factors identical to their film-screen mammograms. The results suggest that the detector performance is suitable for further clinical investigation.