In order to achieve high sensitivity for low-light-level CMOS image sensors (CIS), a capacitive transimpedance amplifier (CTIA) pixel circuit with a small integration capacitor is used. As the pixel and the column area are highly constrained, it is difficult to achieve analog correlated double sampling (CDS) to remove the noise for low-light-level CIS. So a digital CDS is adopted, which realizes the subtraction algorithm between the reset signal and pixel signal off-chip. The pixel reset noise and part of the column fixed-pattern noise (FPN) can be greatly reduced. A 256×256 CIS with CTIA array and digital CDS is implemented in the 0.35μm CMOS technology. The chip size is 7.7mm×6.75mm, and the pixel size is 15μm×15μm with a fill factor of 20.6%. The measured pixel noise is 24LSB with digital CDS in RMS value at dark condition, which shows 7.8× reduction compared to the image sensor without digital CDS. Running at 7fps, this low-light-level CIS can capture recognizable images with the illumination down to 0.1lux.
An incremental sigma-delta ADC is designed for column-parallel ADC array in CMOS image sensor. Sigma-delta modulator with single-loop single-bit structure is chosen for power consumption and performance reasons. Second-order modulator is used to reduce conversion time, without stability problem and large area accompanied by higher order sigma-delta modulator. The asymmetric current mirror amplifier used in integrator reduces more than 30% power dissipation. The digital filter and decimator are implemented by counters and adders with significantly reduced chip area and power consumption. A Clock generator is shared by 8 ADCs for trade-off among power, area and clock loading. The ADC array is implemented in a 0.18-μm CMOS technology and clocked at 10 MHz, and the simulated resolution achieves 15-bit with 255 clock cycles. The average power consumption per ADC is 118 μW including clock generator, and the area is only 0.0053 μm<sup>2</sup>.
A novel data transmission circuit for digital image sensors is presented. Large amounts of data are divided into m groups of n bits each. Each group of data is stored in an n-bit shift register. Under the control of a column scanner, at a time, only one group of data is selected to output serially to a common output line. Thus, as the scanner scans all the groups of data, the large amounts of data are serially output through the common line. A current-mode circuit transforms the output data into a low voltage swing signal which propagates over the common output line fast. A sense amplifier receives the low voltage swing signal and then recovers the full swing signal. Finally, a low-voltage differential signaling ( LVDS ) transmitter, which is fed with the full swing signal, transmits the data out chip. Because there is always only one of the m shift registers operating, the power consumption is greatly reduced. The simulation results show that the proposed circuit works correctly at a date rate of 400Mb/s. For n=14, and m=8, 32, 128, and 256, the power consumption of the prototype is as low as 1/4, 1/15, 1/50, and 1/80 that of the traditional serial link respectively.
The readout integrated circuit (ROIC) is a bridge between the infrared focal plane array (IRFPA) and image processing circuit in an infrared imaging system. The ROIC is the first part of signal processing circuit and connected to detectors directly, so its performance will greatly affect the detector or even the whole imaging system performance. With the development of CMOS technologies, it’s possible to digitalize the signal inside the ROIC and develop the digital ROIC. Digital ROIC can reduce complexity of the whole system and improve the system reliability. More importantly, it can accommodate variety of digital signal processing techniques which the traditional analog ROIC cannot achieve. The analog to digital converter (ADC) is the most important building block in the digital ROIC. The requirements for ADCs inside the ROIC are low power, high dynamic range and small area. In this paper we propose an RC hybrid Successive Approximation Register (SAR) ADC as the column ADC for digital ROIC. In our proposed ADC structure, a resistor ladder is used to generate several voltages. The proposed RC hybrid structure not only reduces the area of capacitor array but also releases requirement for capacitor array matching. Theory analysis and simulation show RC hybrid SAR ADC is suitable for ADC array applications