Custom CMOS Imagers and Complete Imaging/Camera Systems

Mr Neil Powell holding a finished wafer

The Image Engineering Laboratory has the expertise and capability to manage the delivery of complete imaging solutions based on CMOS Active Pixel Sensor technology. CMOS integrated circuits are the basis of all the electronics that populate our high-tech world – from the simplest calculator to the most complex computer. Active Pixel Sensors are the imaging devices that lie at the heart of every mobile phone camera as well as the most advanced digital cameras.

We have been supported by over £6m of external funding for sensor development over the last five years, and have access to over 30 years of experienced CMOS designers, state-of-the-art test facilities and, most importantly, excellent access to silicon foundries and electronic design companies.

Focussing on the most demanding needs for science, medicine and security, we can extend the spectral range far outside the usual visible part of the em spectrum. We can have silicon wafers thinned so that we can successfully image into the deep UV, coat with scintillators to detect x-rays, gammas or high-energy electrons – or design to strict radiation-hard rules. Imagers can be very small with pixels down to a micron or we can produce imagers up to some 15 cm square. We can produce images at many 1000´s frames per second. We can cope with images with very high dynamic range or even count individual photons. The possibilities are almost endless!

We aim to provide complete solutions tailored to your needs – from single systems for unique scientific experiments to systems that can be manufactured in large quantities for commercial exploitation.

DUOS – Unique imager - two independent cameras in one array!

DUOS is a 1K x1K array with 20 micron pitch pixels that can operate as two effectively independent cameras through the provision of additional on-chip registers and logic. Fully-programmable multiple regions-of-interest (ROI) are possible. Intended for diffraction-based experiments using high-energy electrons or soft x-rays, this approach permits very high dynamic range images to be captured by reading the high intensity diffraction peaks much faster than the overall background image. Options available include SOI variant for back-thinned operation and rad-hard designs.

image of the Duos headboard

DUOS Brief Specifications:

1K x 1K pixel array with 20 µm x 20 µm pixels
Low leakage current 170 – 250 e/s
Noise floor 32 – 35 e
Fill Factor 55% for front illumination; 100% for rear illumination
Fully programmable slow/fast regions in blocks of 4 x 1 pixel sections
Full slow frame rate about 30 frames/s for 1K x 1K. In case of only one speed imager, then have 60 frames/s.
For the fast mode a region of (say) 48 x 50 pixels is about 7,500 frames/s.

DUOS imager system in use at BM16 on the Diamond Light Source - April 2010



SOLO - 500 Frames per second x-ray camera

Solo imager board and sensor

Solo unit

SOLO is a very high-speed x-ray imaging system that can record 1280 x 1024 images at up to 500 fps or a smaller selected region at up to 10,000 fps. It operates like a digital storage 'scope in that the on-board 2 GB RAM is constantly being filled by the incoming video stream. When the camera receives an external trigger (software or hardware), it freezes the memory contents which are then transferred over a Gigabit Ethernet link. It is possible to select the number of pre and post trigger frames.
The entire unit operates from a single 5 V supply and can employ any Windows-based host PC.