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100 000 frames/s 64 x 32 single-photon detector array for 2-D imaging and 3-D ranging

: Bronzi, Danilo; Villa, Federica; Tisa, Simone; Tosi, Alberto; Zappa, Franco; Durini, Daniel; Weyers, Sascha; Brockherde, Werner


IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics 20 (2014), Nr.6, Art. 3804310, 10 S.
ISSN: 1077-260X
Fraunhofer IMS ()
photon counting; CMOS imagers; SPAD; 2-D imaging; 3-D ranging; FLIM; FCS; time-gated imaging

We report on the design and characterization of a multipurpose 64 times 32 CMOS single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) array. The chip is fabricated in a high-voltage 0.35-mum CMOS technology and consists of 2048 pixels, each combining a very low noise (100 cps at 5-V excess bias) 30-mum SPAD, a prompt avalanche sensing circuit, and digital processing electronics. The array not only delivers two-dimensional intensity information through photon counting in either free-running (down to 10-mus integration time) or time-gated mode, but can also perform smart light demodulation with in-pixel background suppression. The latter feature enables phase-resolved imaging for extracting either three-dimensional depth-resolved images or decay lifetime maps, by measuring the phase shift between a modulated excitation light and the reflected photons. Pixel-level memories enable fully parallel processing and global-shutter readout, preventing motion artifacts (e.g., skew, wobble, motion blur) and partial exposure effects. The array is able to acquire very fast optical events at high frame-rate (up to 100 000 fps) and at single-photon level. Low-noise SPADs ensure high dynamic range (up to 110 dB at 100 fps) with peak photon detection efficiency of almost 50% at 410 nm. The SPAD imager provides different operating modes, thus, enabling both time-domain applications, like fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, as well as frequency-domain FLIM and lock-in 3-D ranging for automotive vision and lidar.