LOW-LIGHT-LEVEL CMOS IMAGE SENSOR PIXEL

Abstract:

A system for low light level image sensing is provided having: A photodiode; a transfer gate disposed in a center of the photodiode; an active gate disposed surrounded by the transfer gate; a plurality of microlenses, each microlens being disposed over a portion of the photodiode and directing light away from the transfer gate towards the photodiode


Publication Number: US20200161358

Publication Date: 2020-05-21

Application Number: 16198298

Applicant Date: 2018-11-21

International Class:

    H01L 27/146

Inventors: Robert Daniel McGrath Stephen P. Tobin

Inventors Address: Lexington,MA,US Carlisle,MA,US

Applicators: BAE SYSTEMS Information and Electronic Systems Integration Inc.

Applicators Address: Nashua NH US

Assignee: BAE SYSTEMS Information and Electronic Systems Integration Inc.


Claims:

1. A system comprising:A pixel comprising a photodiode;A ring-shaped transfer gate disposed in a center of said photodiode;A conversion node disposed surrounded by said transfer gate;A plurality of microlenses, each said microlens being disposed over a portion of said photodiode and directing light away from said transfer gate towards said photodiode;A channel disposed between said microlenses running from an exterior edge of said photodiode to a center point in said pixel; andA circuitry disposed within said channel.

2. The system of claim 1 wherein said transfer gate comprises at least one segment of said transfer gate.

3. The system of claim 2 wherein said transfer gate has a single interruption in its circumference.

4. The system of claim 2 wherein said transfer gate has a plurality of interruptions in its circumference.

5. The system of claim 4 wherein said plurality of interruptions comprises two or more evenly spaced interruptions in said transfer gate.

6. The system of claim 1 wherein said plurality of microlenses comprises four microlenses disposed in quadrants of said photodiode.

7. The system of claim 6 wherein said four microlenses are arranged in a 22 array.

8. The system of claim 1 wherein said plurality of microlenses comprises six microlenses.

9. The system of claim 1 further comprising at least one connector disposed in said channel between said transfer gate and circuitry disposed externally to said pixel comprising said system.

10. (canceled)

11. The system of claim 1 further comprising a resistor coupled to said conversion node.

12. A sensor array, said sensor array comprising:a plurality of pixels;each said pixel comprising a photodiode, a transfer gate and a conversion node, wherein said transfer gate is surrounded by said photodiode and said active gate is surrounded by said transfer gate;an array of microlenses disposed over said photodiode, directing light away from said transfer gate and said conversion node and into said photodiode; anda plurality of channels, each said channel being disposed between at least two microlenses in said array.

13. The sensor array of claim 12 wherein each said transfer gate comprises at least one segment of said transfer gate.

14. The sensor array claim 13 wherein said transfer gate has a single interruption in its circumference.

15. The sensor array of claim 13 wherein said transfer gate has a plurality of interruptions in its circumference.

16. The sensor array of claim 15 wherein said plurality of interruptions comprises two or more evenly spaced interruptions in said transfer gate.

17. The sensor array of claim 12 wherein said plurality of microlenses comprises four microlenses disposed in quadrants of said photodiode.

18. The sensor array of claim 17 wherein said four microlenses are disposed in a 22 array.

19. The sensor array of claim 1 further comprising at least one connector disposed in said channel between said transfer gate and circuitry disposed externally to said pixel comprising said array.

20. The sensor array of claim 1 further comprising circuitry disposed within said channel.

Descriptions:

STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENT INTEREST

This invention was made with government support under Contract No. W1SP7T-06-D-E402/S3/BD34. The United States Government has certain rights in the inventions.

FIELD

The invention relates to photodiode construction, and more particularly, to a circular photodiode having at least one microlens disposed above the photodiode.

BACKGROUND

Designs for a CIS pixel with increased sensitivity through large size and low noise while not compromising other performance have been sought, however such designs have proved elusive in large pixel applications. Large pixels can suffer from lag issues due to the long path required for charge readout from the large photodiode; light collection is impaired because of the problem of making a large microlens; low noise is further impaired by the problem of connecting the conversion node to the active readout transistors. In a traditional CIS design these conflict with each other.

What is needed, therefore, are techniques for decreasing lag time and improving light collection.

SUMMARY

One embodiment provides system for low light level image sensing, the system comprising: A photodiode; a transfer gate disposed in a center of the photodiode; an active gate disposed surrounded by the transfer gate; a plurality of microlenses, each microlens being disposed over a portion of the photodiode and directing light away from the transfer gate towards the photodiode.

Another embodiment provides a channel disposed between the microlenses running from an exterior edge of the photodiode to a center point in the pixel.

A further embodiment provides such a system wherein the transfer gate comprises at least one segment of transfer gate.

Yet another embodiment provides such a system wherein the transfer gate has a single interruption in its circumference.

A yet further embodiment provides such a system wherein the transfer gate has a plurality of interruptions in its circumference.

Even another embodiment provides such a system wherein the plurality of interruptions comprises two or more evenly spaces interruptions in the transfer gate.

An even further embodiment provides such a system wherein the plurality of microlenses comprise four microlenses disposed in quadrants of the photodiode.

Still another embodiment provides such a system wherein the four microlenses are arranged in a 22 array.

A still further embodiment provides such a system wherein the plurality of microlenses comprise six microlenses.

Even still another embodiment provides such a system further comprising at least one connector disposed in the channel between the transfer gate and circuitry disposed externally to a pixel comprising the system.

An even still further embodiment provides such a system further comprising circuitry disposed within the channel.

Even another embodiment provides such a system further comprising a resister coupled to area enclosed by transfer gate and substrate.

One embodiment provides a sensor array, the sensor array comprising: a plurality of pixels; each the pixel comprising a photodiode, a transfer gate and an active gate, wherein the transfer gate is surrounded by the photodiode and the active gate is surrounded by the transfer gate; an array of microlenses disposed over the photodiode, directing light away from the transfer gate and the active gate and into the photodiode; and a plurality of channels, each channel being disposed between at least two microlenses in the array.

Another embodiment provides such a sensor array wherein each the transfer gate comprises at least one segment of transfer gate.

A further embodiment provides such a sensor array wherein the transfer gate has a single interruption in its circumference.

Still another embodiment provides such a sensor array wherein the transfer gate has a plurality of interruptions in its circumference.

A still further embodiment provides such a sensor array wherein the plurality of interruptions comprises two or more evenly spaces interruptions in the transfer gate.

Even another embodiment provides such a sensor array wherein the plurality of microlenses comprises four microlenses disposed in quadrants of the photodiode.

An even further embodiment provides such a sensor array wherein the four microlenses are disposed in a 22 array.

Yet another embodiment provides such a sensor array further comprising at least one connector disposed in the channel between the transfer gate and circuitry disposed externally to a pixel comprising the system.

A yet further embodiment provides such a sensor array further comprising circuitry disposed within the channel.

The features and advantages described herein are not all-inclusive and, in particular, many additional features and advantages will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art in view of the drawings, specification, and claims. Moreover, it should be noted that the language used in the specification has been principally selected for readability and instructional purposes, and not to limit the scope of the inventive subject matter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGSFIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating a photo diode pixel configured in accordance with one embodiment.FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating a photo diode pixel configured in accordance with one embodiment wherein the photodiode comprises a complete ring around the transfer gate.FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating a photo diode pixel configured in accordance with one embodiment and having four microlenses disposed thereupon.FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating a photo diode pixel configured in accordance with one embodiment and having six microlenses disposed thereupon.FIG. 5 is a circuit diagram illustrating a photo diode pixel configured in accordance with one embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

One embodiment uses a design, illustrated in FIG. 1 where a conversion node diffusion 12 is located at the center of a pixel 10, the transfer gate 14 is a surrounding ring which controls either complete (as in FIG. 2) or segmented transfer channels (as in FIG. 3) from the photodiode 16 to the conversion node diffusion 12, an array 20 of microlenses 22 is used in each pixel 10 to direct light to the center of the photodiodes 16 and away from the center of the pixel 10 and the channels between the photodiodes 16. In one embodiment, areas to which light is not directed by the micro lenses allow internal paths 24 and interconnects 26 between the conversion node diffusion 12 and the active transistor 28 and for locating related circuits 30 with minimum impact on optical collection. Circuits 24 can be placed between adjoin pixels at the edge of the pixel 32, leaving open the photodiode areas 16 for unencumbered light collection or can be placed in the lanes between photodiodes within the pixel 34 where the microlenses abut to provide shorter connections and resulting in improved conversion gain and decreased noise as expressed in electrons or holes with minimum loss of optical response. The interconnect portion of the conversion node (that is, the connection from diode to active transistor) can have minimized capacitance through bus separation and through choosing the interconnect to be on a higher interconnect metal layer (for instance, on metal 2 rather than metal 1).

As illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4, configuration where embodiments having four or six microlenses 22, and associated photodiodes are disclosed. One skilled in the art will appreciate that other configurations with different numbers of microlenses 22 could would also be within the scope of this disclosure.

FIG. 5, illustrates a schematic of a pixel thus configured. A photodiode 16 is coupled to a transfer FET 14 and reset FET 40 with the diffusion in between coupled to an active FET 42. The photodiode holds the photo-generated signal charge, the reset FET 40 alternately resets the intermediate node 18 and then isolates it, and the transfer FET 14 transfers the signal charge onto the node for readout. When the select FET 44 is biased to be on, current flows through circuit made up of the active FET 42 and the select FET 44 with the voltage on the Output 4 of the active FET 42 following the voltage on the intermediate node 18. This voltage can be read both after the intermediate node 18 is reset and after the transfer FET 14 has transferred the charge so that the difference in signal on the Output 4 provides a measure of the light collected on the photodiode 16. The active FET 42 is used to sense the potential while a select FET 44 controls whether the pixel is activated or not. A parasitic resistance 46 exists between the substrate under transfer FET 14 and is designed to be small so as to provide good transfer FET 14 operation, minimizing the impact of clocking the gate of the transfer FET 14.

One embodiment provides system, as shown in for low light level image sensing, the system comprising FIGS. 1 and 2: A photodiode 16; a transfer gate 14 disposed in a center of the photodiode 16; an active gate 28 disposed surrounded by the transfer gate 14; a plurality of microlenses 22, each microlens being disposed over a portion of the photodiode 16 and directing light away from the transfer gate 14 towards the photodiode 16.

Another embodiment provides a channel 34 disposed between the microlenses 16 running from an exterior edge of the photodiode 16 to a center point in the pixel 10.

A further embodiment provides such a system wherein the transfer gate 14 comprises at least one segment of transfer gate or the transfer gate 14 has a single interruption 34 in its circumference. Alternatively the transfer gate could have a plurality of interruptions in its circumference. In such an embodiment, the plurality of interruptions 34 comprises two or more evenly spaces interruptions in the transfer gate.

In such a system configured according to embodiments, the plurality of microlenses 22 may comprise four, as in FIG. 3 or six, as in FIG. 4 or some other number of microlenses disposed in regions of the photodiode. In such an embodiment the four microlenses may be arranged in a 22 array.

In embodiments such a system may further comprise at least one connector disposed in the channel between the transfer gate and circuitry disposed externally to a pixel comprising the system and may further comprising circuitry disposed within the channel.

In embodiments, the system may have a resister coupled to area enclosed by transfer gate and substrate.

One embodiment provides a sensor array, the sensor array comprising: a plurality of pixels 10 as described above; each the pixel comprising a photodiode 16, a transfer gate 14 and an active gate 28, wherein the transfer gate 14 is surrounded by the photodiode 16 and the active gate 28 is surrounded by the transfer gate 14; an array of microlenses 22 disposed over the photodiode 16, directing light away from the transfer gate 14 and the active gate 28 and into the photodiode 16; and a plurality of channels, 34 each channel 34 being disposed between at least two microlenses 16 in the array.

Embodiments may provide such a sensor array wherein each the transfer gate comprises at least one segment of transfer gate or where each transfer gate has a single interruption in its circumference or plurality of interruptions in its circumference. If there are a plurality, the interruptions may be evenly spaced at interruptions in the transfer gate. The microlenses may be four, six or another number of microlenses disposed in evenly around the photodiode.

Embodiments may provide a sensor array with at least one connector disposed in the channel between the transfer gate and circuitry disposed externally to a pixel comprising the system and may further comprising circuitry disposed within the channel.

The foregoing description of the embodiments has been presented for the purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in light of this disclosure. It is intended that the scope of the invention be limited not by this detailed description, but rather by the claims appended hereto.