On-Pixel Intelligent CMOS (OPIC) sensor

Ref-Nr: TDO0174

OPIC Sensor Array Diagram

Technology abstract

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. 

Technology Description

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

Current:

The sensor was originally developed for a spectrometer on ESA's Solar Orbiter (due to launch in 2018).

 

Potential:

Any CMOS imaging application, including:

  • Industrial analysis
  • Medical imaging
  • Defence applications
  • Spectroscopy
  • High-energy physics
  • Robotics