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Analysis of temporal noise in CMOS photodiode active pixel sensor

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3 Author(s)
Tian, H. ; Dept. of Electr. Eng., Stanford Univ., CA, USA ; Fowler, Boyd ; Gamal, A.E.

Temporal noise sets the fundamental limit on image sensor performance, especially under low illumination and in video applications. In a CCD image sensor, temporal noise is primarily due to the photodetector shot noise and the output amplifier thermal and 1/f noise. CMOS image sensors suffer from higher noise than CCDs due to the additional pixel and column amplifier transistor thermal and 1/f noise. Noise analysis is further complicated by the time-varying circuit models, the fact that the reset transistor operates in subthreshold during reset, and the nonlinearity of the charge to voltage conversion, which is becoming more pronounced as CMOS technology scales. The paper presents a detailed and rigorous analysis of temporal noise due to thermal and shot noise sources in CMOS active pixel sensor (APS) that takes into consideration these complicating factors. Performing time-domain analysis, instead of the more traditional frequency-domain analysis, we find that the reset noise power due to thermal noise is at most half of its commonly quoted kT/C value. This result is corroborated by several published experimental data including data presented in this paper. The lower reset noise, however, comes at the expense of image lag. We find that alternative reset methods such as overdriving the reset transistor gate or using a pMOS transistor can alleviate lag, but at the expense of doubling the reset noise power. We propose a new reset method that alleviates lag without increasing reset noise

Published in:

Solid-State Circuits, IEEE Journal of  (Volume:36 ,  Issue: 1 )