Sub-electron noise charge-coupled devices
A charge coupled device designed for celestial spectroscopy has achieved readout noise as low as 0.6 electrons rms. A nondestructive output circuit was operated in a special manner to read a single pixel multiple times. Off-chip electronics averaged the multiple values, reducing the random noise by the square root of the number of readouts. Charge capacity was measured to be 500,000 electrons. The device format is 1600 pixels horizontal by 64 pixels vertical. Pixel size is 28 microns square. Two output circuits are located at opposite ends of the 1600 bit CCD register. The device was thinned and operated backside illuminated at -110 degrees C. Output circuit design, layout, and operation are described. Presented data includes the photon transfer curve, noise histograms, and bar-target images down to 3 electrons signal. The test electronics are described, and future improvements are discussed.
Additional Information© 1990 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Project funding was provided by the California Institute of Technology from a grant (AST-8503887) by the National Science Foundation. Credit for successfully performing the wafer fabrication goes to Melanie LaShell.
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