A PFM based digital pixel with off-pixel residue measurement for 15μm pitch MWIR FPAs

Abstract

Digital pixels based on pulse frequency modulation (PFM) employ counting techniques to achieve very high charge handling capability compared to their analog counterparts. Moreover, extended counting methods making use of leftover charge (residue) on the integration capacitor help improve the noise performance of these pixels. However, medium wave infrared (MWIR) focal plane arrays (FPAs) having smaller pixel pitch are constrained in terms of pixel area which makes it difficult to add extended counting circuitry to the pixel. Thus, this paper investigates the performance of digital pixels employing off-pixel residue measurement. A circuit prototype of such a pixel has been designed for 15μm pixel pitch and fabricated in 90nm CMOS. The prototype is composed of a pixel front-end based on a PFM loop. The frontend is a modified version of conventional design providing a means for buffering the signal that needs to be converted to a digital value by an off-pixel ADC. The pixel has an integration phase and a residue measurement phase. Measured integration performance of the pixel has been reported in this paper for various detector currents and integration times.