On-Pixel Intelligent CMOS (OPIC) sensor
A leading UK science research organisation has developed a CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) image detector that can store a time value each time the sensor output signal amplitude surpasses a reference voltage; an event known as a ‘hit’. This functionality is especially useful in the detection of sudden external events and thus in real-time applications such as medical imaging or automated safety mechanisms.
The CMOS image detector offered here can store a time value (to 10 nanosecond accuracy) each time the sensor output signal amplitude surpasses a reference voltage. The pixel is reset immediately after such an event, allowing multiple hits to be detected per exposure period. The reference voltage corresponding to a hit can be altered to provide greater sophistication in the detection of hits, and hit flag generators can be used to identify pixels of interest; reducing the readout time by omitting pixels that are not of interest.
Innovations & Advantages
- The ability to record changes in incident radiation within a single exposure period
- The ability to time tag events to 10 ns accuracy provides the means for making time-of-flight and correlation measurements, which cannot be done with conventional CMOS or CCD sensors
- MHz to GHz event rates can be achieved before event pile up occurs, which is orders of magnitude faster than currently available CCD-based readout
- Reduced data readout and analysis overheads in photon, ion, and electron imaging applications
- Improved signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)
Current and Potential Domains of Application
The sensor was originally developed for a spectrometer on ESA's Solar Orbiter (due to launch in 2018).
Any CMOS imaging application, including:
- Industrial analysis
- Medical imaging
- Defence applications
- High-energy physics