A 4-side tileable back illuminated 3D-integrated Mpixel CMOS image sensor
February 9, 2009
The dominant trend with conventional image sensors is toward scaled-down pixel sizes to increase spatial resolution and decrease chip size and cost. While highly capable chips, these monolithic image sensors devote substantial perimeter area to signal acquisition and control circuitry and trade off pixel complexity for fill factor. For applications such as wide-area persistent surveillance, reconnaissance, and astronomical sky surveys it is desirable to have simultaneous near-real-time imagery with fast, wide field-of-view coverage. Since the fabrication of a complex large-format sensor on a single piece of silicon is cost and yield-prohibitive and is limited to the wafer size, for these applications many smaller-sized image sensors are tiled together to realize very large arrays. Ideally the tiled image sensor has no missing pixels and the pixel pitch is continuous across the seam to minimize loss of information content. CCD-based imagers have been favored for these large mosaic arrays because of their low noise and high sensitivity, but CMOS-based image sensors bring architectural benefits, including electronic shutters, enhanced radiation tolerance, and higher data-rate digital outputs that are more easily scalable to larger arrays. In this report the first back-illuminated, 1 Mpixel, 3D-integrated CMOS image sensor with 8 mum-pitch 3D via connections. The chip employs a conventional pixel layout and requires 500 mum of perimeter silicon to house the support circuitry and protect the array from saw damage. In this paper we present a back-illuminated 1 Mpixel CMOS image sensor tile that includes a 64-channel vertically integrated ADC chip stack, and requires only a few pixels of silicon perimeter to the pixel array. The tile and system connector design support 4-side abuttability and fast burst data rates.