A Low Cost, High Dynamic Range, Versatile Digital Readout Integrated Circuit Unit Cell Prototype for Infrared Imaging Applications
Readout Integrated Circuits(ROICs) are important components of infrared(IR) imag
ing systems. Performance of ROICs aﬀect the quality of images obtained from IR
imaging systems. Contemporary infrared imaging applications demand ROICs that
can support large dynamic range, high frame rate, high output data rate, at low
cost, size and power. Some of these applications are military surveillance, remote
sensing in space and earth science missions and medical diagnosis. This work focuses
on developing a ROIC unit cell prototype for National Aeronautics and Space Ad
ministration(NASA), Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s(JPL’s) space applications. These
space applications also demand high sensitivity, longer integration times(large well
capacity), wide operating temperature range, wide input current range and immunity
to radiation events such as Single Event Latchup(SEL).
This work proposes a digital ROIC(DROIC) unit cell prototype of 30ux30u size,
to be used mainly with NASA JPL’s High Operating Temperature Barrier Infrared
Detectors(HOT BIRDs). Current state of the art DROICs achieve a dynamic range
of 16 bits using advanced 65-90nm CMOS processes which adds a lot of cost overhead.
The DROIC pixel proposed in this work uses a low cost 180nm CMOS process and
supports a dynamic range of 20 bits operating at a low frame rate of 100 frames per
second(fps), and a dynamic range of 12 bits operating at a high frame rate of 5kfps.
The total electron well capacity of this DROIC pixel is 1.27 billion electrons, enabling
integration times as long as 10ms, to achieve better dynamic range. The DROIC unit
cell uses an in-pixel 12-bit coarse ADC and an external 8-bit DAC based ﬁne ADC.
The proposed DROIC uses layout techniques that make it immune to radiation up to
300krad(Si) of total ionizing dose(TID) and single event latch-up(SEL). It also has a
wide input current range from 10pA to 1uA and supports detectors operating from
Short-wave infrared (SWIR) to longwave infrared (LWIR) regions.