SCIENCE CHINA Information Sciences, Volume 62, Issue 6: 062407(2019) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11432-018-9712-7

64 $\times$ 64 GM-APD array-based readout integrated circuit for 3D imaging applications

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  • ReceivedJul 30, 2018
  • AcceptedNov 29, 2018
  • PublishedApr 15, 2019


Using the high sensitivity of the avalanche photodiode (APD) detector operated in the Geiger-mode (GM), an array readout integrated circuit (ROIC) comprising a two-segment time-to-digital converter (TDC) is employed for wide-dynamic time interval measurement, where a 1-bit low-segment TDC is implemented by discriminating a single-phase clock period. The proposed 64 $\times$ 64 GM-APD array ROIC fabricated using Taiwan semiconductor manufacturing company (TSMC) 0.18-$\mu~$m complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology can operate at a maximum frequency of 500 MHz provided by an external phase-locked loop clock. The time resolution is reduced to $<1$ ns along with a maximum range of 4 $\mu~$s; the differential non-linearity (DNL) and integral non-linearity (INL) are restricted to approximately $-$0.15 to 0.15 least significant bit (LSB) and $-$0.3 to 0.32 LSB, respectively; and the power consumption is 490 mW under a frame rate of 20 kHz. The developed ROIC is successfully used in imaging applications in two different ways.


This work was supported by Natural Key R$\&$D Program of China (Grant No. 2016YFB0400904), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 61805036), Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (Grant No. BK20181139), and Fundamental Research for Funds for Central Universities. We also appreciate the supporting in system testing and applications from the 44th Research Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation.


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  • Figure 1

    (Color online) Construction of the TOF detection system based on single photon detection.

  • Figure 2

    (Color online) H- tree structure. (a) Pixel array; (b) the signal transmission path.

  • Figure 3

    (Color online) Frame timing diagram of the ROIC.

  • Figure 4

    (Color online) Circuit of the single pixel in the ROIC.

  • Figure 5

    (Color online) Chip used in the test. (a) ROIC chip; (b) PCB-level test circuit.

  • Figure 8

    Nonlinear errors of the TDC. (a) The DNL errors; (b) the INL errors.

  • Figure 9

    (Color online) 3D imaging results for different distances.

  • Figure 10

    (Color online) Application of space-debris detection. (a) Testing platform; (b) the image of space debris.

  • Table 1   Performance-comparison of different ROICs with a two-segment architecture
    Reference CMOS process Pixel Pixel pitch Architecture Binary word Frame rate
    ($\mu$m) array ($\mu$m) width (bit) (fps)
    Ref.[10] 0.18 64 $\times$ 64 64 Local shared 8+3 500
    Ref.[11] 0.13 64 $\times$ 64 Local shared 6+4 100
    Ref.[12] 0.13 32 $\times$ 32 50 Local shared 7+3 500000
    Ref.[13] 0.13 32 $\times$ 32 50 Local shared 6+4 500000
    This work 0.18 64 $\times$ 64 50 Local shared 11+1 20000
    Counting frequency Time resolution Range DNL INL Area Total power
    (MHz) (ps) (ns) (LSB) (LSB) (mm$^2$) (mW)
    280 145 270 $\pm$1 1.7 5 $\times$ 5
    1000 62.5 64 $<$4 $<$8 6 $\times$ 6 8790
    160 52 53 $\pm$0.5 2.4 4.6 $\times$ 3.8
    560 119 100 $\pm$0.4 $\pm$1.2 4.8 $\times$ 3.2
    500 1000 4090 $-$0.15 to 0.15 $-$0.3 to 0.32 4.5 $\times$ 4.3 490
  • Table 2   Parameters of the laser
    Parameter Value
    Photon wavelength 1064 nm
    Photon pulse width 10 ns
    EN frame frequency 10 kHz
    Laser average power 0–200 mW (adjustable)
    Transmitter-receiver field angle 7$^{\circ}$

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