The patent's inventor is Nishihara, Toshiyuki (Kanagawa, JP).
This patent was filed on
From the background information supplied by the inventors, news correspondents obtained the following quote: "The present invention relates to an imaging device like a CMOS image sensor, and a camera system.
"Recently, CMOS image sensors have widely been used in digital still cameras, camcoders, monitor cameras, etc., and the market for the CMOS image sensors has expanded.
"Each pixel in a CMOS image sensor converts input light to electrons using a photodiode which is a photoelectric converting device, stores the electron for a given period, and then outputs a signal reflecting the amount of stored charges to an analog-digital (AD) converter incorporated in a chip. The AD converter digitizes the signal to be sent outside.
"The CMOS image sensor has such imaging pixels laid out in a matrix form.
"FIG. 1 is a diagram showing the typical chip configuration of a CMOS image sensor 10 which is a solid-state imaging device.
"This CMOS image sensor 10 has a pixel array section 11, a row drive circuit 12, an AD converter 13, a switch 14, an output circuit 15, a row control line 16, a vertical signal line 17, and a transfer line 18.
"The pixel array section 11 has a plurality of pixels PX laid out in a matrix form in the row direction and in the column direction. The vertical signal line 17 is shared by a plurality of pixels PX aligned in the row direction, and is connected to the AD converter 13 arranged in association with each column.
"The row drive circuit 12 selects only one of a plurality of rows, and enables the row control line 16 to read stored charges from the pixels PX row by row.
"The row control line 16 is formed by a single control line or a plurality of control lines to read stored charges from such pixels, or reset the pixels row by row.
"Resetting herein means an operation of discharging stored charges from the pixels to set back the pixels to the state before exposure, and is executed as a shutter operation immediately after reading each row of pixels or at the time of initiating exposure.
"At the time of reading stored charges, analog signals transferred to the AD converter 13 via the vertical signal line are converted to digital signals, which are in turn sequentially transferred to the output circuit 15 via the switch 14 to be output to an image processing apparatus (not shown) located inside or outside the chip.
"When reading one row of pixels is completed in the CMOS image sensor 10, a next row is selected, and similar charge reading, AD conversion, and signal outputting are repeated. The completion of the processes on all the rows completes the outputting of one frame of image data.
"A hold circuit or a latch may be provided somewhere before the output stage to pipeline the charge reading, AD conversion, and signal outputting, but the CMOS image sensor is still unable to execute more than one row of image data.
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