Patent number 8605187 is assigned to
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "There are several different types of image sensors. An area image sensor, such as an interline charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensor, has at least a 2.times.2 array of photodetectors, a mechanism to transfer photo-generated charge from the photodetectors to vertical shift registers, and a mechanism to shift the photo-generated charge vertically through the vertical shift registers to a horizontal shift register. The charge in the horizontal shift register is then shifted horizontally to an output amplifier that is connected to external circuitry that converts the photo-generated charge to an image.
"A full frame CCD image sensor is also an area image sensor. One difference between a full frame CCD image sensor and an interline CCD image sensor is that the photodetectors in a full frame CCD sensor also function as vertical shift registers.
"A linear image sensor has only one line of photodetectors for each color channel including monochrome. A linear image sensor does not have any vertical shift registers. The photo-generated charge is transferred directly from the photodetectors to a horizontal shift register.
"Photodetectors, vertical shift registers, and horizontal shift registers all have a maximum amount of photo-generated charge each can store. Excess charge spills or 'blooms' into neighboring components when the photo-generated charge exceeds the maximum amount. Blooming is a serious problem in image sensors because blooming corrupts the image output from the image sensor.
"A camera having an image sensor operating in either a sub-sampling mode or a focus mode can transfer excess photo-generated charge to a horizontal shift register. A sub-sampling mode enables a camera to operate with a fast frame rate having less resolution, such as a video preview mode. For example, a '5.times.' sub-sampling in the y-direction reads out only one line out of every five lines. The image sensor inside the camera dumps four successive lines of charge from the vertical shift registers into the horizontal shift register and removes the charge from the horizontal shift register before the transfer of the fifth line of charge. If the amount of photo-generated charge in the four lines of charge exceeds the capacity of the horizontal shift register, the excess charge spills back into the vertical shift registers and creates a 'blooming' image.
"A focus-mode enables the image sensor to read out only a portion of the image by dumping the leading and trailing portions of the image. The leading or the trailing portions can include many lines of charge. Blooming occurs when the total amount of charge dumped into the horizontal shift register exceeds the capacity of the horizontal shift register. Blooming corrupts the image and adversely affects the auto-focusing functionality of the camera.
"U.S. Pat. No. 5,902,995 discloses a solution to the problem of blooming in the horizontal shift register. FIG. 1 depicts a top view of a portion of an image sensor disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,902,995. Image sensor 100 has array of photodetectors 102 that convert incident light into photo-generated charge. Each pixel has four vertical gates 104, 106, 108, 110 that are used to shift photo-generated charge through the vertical shift register regions 111. Each horizontal shift register region 112 also has four gates 114, 116, 118, 120 that are used to sequentially shift the photo-generated charge through the horizontal shift register region.
"Photo-generated charge that is transferred to the vertical shift register regions 111 is shifted vertically down through a channel 124 in each vertical shift register region 111, and then transferred to the horizontal shift register region 112. An overflow barrier region 128 extends across and is embedded below channel 126. An overflow drain region 130 is connected to channel 126 of horizontal shift register region 112. Overflow drain region 130 discharges any excess charge that exceeds the barrier potential.
"However, due to relatively high sheet resistance of overflow drain region 130, having a long stripe of an overflow drain region 130 extending across the entire horizontal shift register region 112 produces a voltage drop from the center of the stripe to the point where the stripe has a conductive contact that connects to a power supply. This voltage drop degrades the effectiveness of the overflow drain performance.
"To overcome the drop in voltage, the overflow drain under each horizontal gate should be connected to a metal bus to eliminate the voltage drop caused by the conductive contact. However, this solution is not feasible when the length of a horizontal gate (L1 or L2) is too small to accommodate a conductive contact."
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "A charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensor includes a layer of a semiconductor material of one conductivity type and having a surface. A horizontal CCD channel region of the opposite conductivity type is disposed adjacent to the surface of the layer of the semiconductor material. The horizontal CCD channel region includes a plurality of phases that is used to shift photo-generated charge through the horizontal CCD channel region. Distinct overflow drain regions are disposed in the layer of semiconducting material, with an overflow drain region electrically connected to only one particular phase of the horizontal CCD channel region. A plurality of barrier regions is disposed in the layer of semiconductor material, with each barrier region disposed between each overflow drain region and the one particular phase electrically connected to the overflow drain region. In one embodiment in accordance with the invention, a buffer region of the second conductivity type electrically connects each overflow drain to the one particular phase of the horizontal CCD channel."
URL and more information on this patent, see: Wang, Shen; Meisenzahl, Eric J.;
Keywords for this news article include: Electronics, Semiconductor,
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