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A 128 \times 128 Single-Photon Image Sensor With Column-Level 10-Bit Time-to-Digital Converter Array

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5 Author(s)
Niclass, C. ; Ecole Polytech. Fed. de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne ; Favi, C. ; Kluter, T. ; Gersbach, M.
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An imager for time-resolved optical sensing was fabricated in CMOS technology. The sensor comprises an array of 128times128 single-photon pixels, a bank of 32 time-to-digital-converters, and a 7.68 Gbps readout system. Thanks to the outstanding timing precision of single-photon avalanche diodes and the optimized measurement circuitry, a typical resolution of 97 ps was achieved within a range of 100 ns. To the best of our knowledge, this imager is the first fully integrated system for photon time-of-arrival evaluation. Applications include 3-D imaging, optical rangefinding, fast fluorescence lifetime imaging, imaging of extremely fast phenomena, and, more generally, imaging based on time-correlated single photon counting. When operated as an optical rangefinder, this design has enabled us to reconstruct 3-D scenes with milimetric precisions in extremely low signal exposure. A laser source was used to illuminate the scene up to 3.75 m with an average power of 1 mW, a field-of-view of 5deg and under 150 lux of constant background light. Accurate distance measurements were repeatedly achieved based on a short integration time of 50 ms even when signal photon count rates as low as a few hundred photons per second were available.

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Solid-State Circuits, IEEE Journal of  (Volume:43 ,  Issue: 12 )