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The characterization of surface channel charge-coupled device line imagers with front-surface imaging, interline transfer, and 2-phase stepped oxide, silicon-gate CCD registers is presented. The analysis, design, and evaluation of 1/spl times/64 CCD line arrays are described in terms of their performance at low light levels. The authors describe the responsivity, resolution, spectral, and noise measurements on silicon-gate CCD sensors and CCD interline shift-registers. The influence of transfer inefficiency and electrical fat-zero insertion on resolution and noise is described at low light levels.