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Open AccessArticle

Simulations and Design of a Single-Photon CMOS Imaging Pixel Using Multiple Non-Destructive Signal Sampling

Centre for Electronic Imaging, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK
European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2, D-85748 Garching, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2020, 20(7), 2031;
Received: 20 February 2020 / Revised: 27 March 2020 / Accepted: 2 April 2020 / Published: 4 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multipixels Single Photon Detectors for Quantum Applications)
A single-photon CMOS image sensor (CIS) design based on pinned photodiode (PPD) with multiple charge transfers and sampling is described. In the proposed pixel architecture, the photogenerated signal is sampled non-destructively multiple times and the results are averaged. Each signal measurement is statistically independent and by averaging, the electronic readout noise is reduced to a level where single photons can be distinguished reliably. A pixel design using this method was simulated in TCAD and several layouts were generated for a 180-nm CMOS image sensor process. Using simulations, the noise performance of the pixel was determined as a function of the number of samples, sense node capacitance, sampling rate and transistor characteristics. The strengths and limitations of the proposed design are discussed in detail, including the trade-off between noise performance and readout rate and the impact of charge transfer inefficiency (CTI). The projected performance of our first prototype device indicates that single-photon imaging is within reach and could enable ground-breaking performances in many scientific and industrial imaging applications. View Full-Text
Keywords: CMOS image sensors (CIS); single-photon imaging; pinned photodiode CMOS image sensors (CIS); single-photon imaging; pinned photodiode
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Stefanov, K.D.; Prest, M.J.; Downing, M.; George, E.; Bezawada, N.; Holland, A.D. Simulations and Design of a Single-Photon CMOS Imaging Pixel Using Multiple Non-Destructive Signal Sampling. Sensors 2020, 20, 2031.

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