Are there physical limits to image quality for a given sensor size?

Started May 5, 2013 | Discussions thread
Eric Fossum
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Re: 2.5+ Stops away from perfect Photon Counting with Color Recording
In reply to Jack Hogan, May 5, 2013

Jack Hogan wrote:

Eric Fossum wrote:

How do you figure this?  First of all, this is about read noise and not QE so the metric seems completely irrelevant.

Sorry, forgot: of course once we were able to collect them all one would need a detector with a sub-electron read noise to be able to count those photons one for one.

Jack

OK, if you want to count photons entering the sensor aperture, then QE does count, obviously. Recently Nobu Teranishi addressed this in this paper:

N. Teranishi, “Required Conditions for Photon-Counting Image Sensors,” IEEE Trans. Electron Devices, 59(8) pp. 2199-2205 (2012).

Write me privately and I will send you a copy.  It is probably locked up in the IEEE digital library and unless you are an IEEE member you cant get to it without paying a lot.  (I hate this about the IEEE policy, and btw, the authors get nothing even if you do pay).

I have since done more analysis for photoelectron counting (basically, once the photon is absorped) and the results are that at 0.15 e- rms, the chance of a bit error is below 1 in 1000, which is probably good enough for most low light work.  The bit error rate is a steep function of noise so by 0.2 e- rms it is hopeless, and below 0.15 e- rms there is little practical improvement. There are a couple papers we will be presenting at the Int. Image Sensor Workshop (IISW) n Utah in June that give the details.  Right after the meeting I will post the papers on my website.

SOA for image sensors is around, say 2-3 e- rms.  So we need about 20x improvement in input-referred read noise.

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