US 20080007641 A1
A system which operates to determine temperature of an image sensor using the same signal chain that is used to detect the image sensor actual outputs. A correlated double sampling circuit is used to obtain the image outputs. That's same correlated double sampling circuit is used to receive two different inputs from the temperature circuit, and to subtract one from the other. The temperature output can be perceived, for example, once each frame.
35. A method, comprising:
receiving image signals from an image sensor indicative of blocks of pixels from said image sensor;
receiving temperature signals from said image sensor indicative of a temperature of said image sensor, said temperature signals being received every specified time during the operation of said image sensor, so that said temperature signal is received for each specified group of pixels; and
using said temperature signals from said image sensor to correct said image signals.
36. A method as in
37. A method as in
This application claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/306,718, filed Jul. 20, 2001.
Image sensors strive for more accuracy in the image readout chain. Different techniques are used, including techniques to cancel out various kinds of noise. Different characteristics of image sensors are also dependent on temperature. Accordingly, temperature compensation may also be used to monitor for, and correct for, errors in the acquired signal.
The present application teaches a new technique allowing reading out a signal that is proportional to the temperature of an image sensor. This temperature may be used to compensate for the effect of the temperature on an image sensor pixel array.
These and other aspects will now be described in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:
An embodiment is shown in
The system of
A second input to the double sample and hold circuit 115 comes from a temperature sensor 150. The output 151 of the temperature sensor is also received by the sample and hold circuit 115, and passes through the signal chain in the same way as the image sensor outputs.
In this way, a signal which is directly proportional to temperature can be received from the temperature sensor 150. This may be done, for example, during a time slot while the image readout is inactive. It may be done for example at the beginning of each image, or at the beginning or end of each one frame, or every few lines, or any other interval of pixels or time. In this way, changes in temperature which fluctuate on a relatively short time frame may be used as correction, as often as desired.
In a typical implementation of an image sensor, such as the one described herein, a hotter chip provides a whiter image, or put another way, the black level of an image pixel has a higher voltage than the white level. Increasing the temperature causes a correspondingly decreased pixel signal voltage. This is the typical case when a pixel photodiode is implemented in a P type silicon or P type diffusion well. In the opposite case, where an N type substrate or N type well is used to embed the photoreceptor, an increasing voltage may correspond to a higher temperature. A relationship between the temperature and the amount of compensation of image output may be stored.
A so-called bandgap cell is shown in
The CMOS transistors 210,212 form a current mirror keeps the source potential of the two NMOS transistors 200, 202 constant. The current mirror is also part of a closed looped amplifier which insures that the source potential of the NMOS transistors will be kept low due to feedback. This loop should be kept stable.
Equal currents are hence forced through the two base P-N junctions of the diode-coupled transistors 220,222. These transistors have different areas, with the area ratio between transistor 222 and 225 being 4:32 equals 1:8. Because of this area difference, there will be a difference in the P-N junction voltage drop across the junctions according to
Therefore, Δ VEB has a positive temperature coefficient proportional to absolute temperature. The VT is called the thermal voltage, K is Boltzmann's constant, T is absolute temperature in degrees Kelvin and Q is the charge of an electron. The P-N junctions have negative temperature coefficients of about 2 mV per degrees K. By balancing these two coefficients at a chosen temperature T=Tθ, a close to 0 temperature coefficient can be obtained at that temperature.
In order for the two currents in
The two operating currents are then given by
Since R6=R5+ΔR, the output reference voltage will be:
The operating currents and current densities of Q5 and Q6 may be selected to provide a negative temperature coefficient for the VEB determined in equation 3. This can be balanced against the positive temperature term by the resistor ratio R5/ΔR and also by changing the area ratio between Q5 and Q6. In this particular embodiment this ratio 1:8.
The last part of equation 3 also shows that the last term is independent of any common production tolerance in the absolute value of the resistors. However, the operating current will still vary around the target design value. There will be a logarithmic variation in the first term VEB,Q6 over multiple process runs, and hence also in the output voltage. In most cases, this variation is acceptable. There is also an acceptable variation in the negative temperature coefficient of VEB,Q6.
According to this finding, the present application uses the double sampling part of the analog signal processing chain of an image sensor to obtain the difference between the voltage V_REF and VEB,Q6, in order to output a signal directly proportional to the absolute temperature of the sensor as
Where AQ6/AQ5 are respective emitter areas of Q6 and Q5.
This enables temperature measurement to be carried out independently of process variations according to a first order. However, there may be second order variations in the term ΔVEB.
Accordingly, the bandgap cell has an inherent start current provided by the start current generating circuit thereby providing a temperature sensed output.
Although only a few embodiments have been disclosed in detail above, other modifications are possible.