A 1.9 e- random noise CMOS image sensor has been developed by applying an active feedback operation (AFO), which uses a capacitive feedback effect to floating diffusion (FD) by a gate-source capacitance of a pixel source follower (SF), in a CMOS image sensor with a lateral overflow integration capacitor (LOFIC) technology. It is described that the AFO is suitable for CMOS image sensors with LOFIC because the design of the full well capacity and the FD can be independently optimized. The AFO theory is found to be explored to a large signal voltage in detail, as well as the conventional analysis of the capacitive feedback effect of the pixel SF for a small signal voltage. A 1/4-in 5.6-μm-pitch 640(H) × 480(V) pixel sensor chip in a 0.18-μm two-poly-Si three-metal CMOS technology achieves about 1.7 times the sensitivity with AFO compared with the case where the feedback operation is not positively used, resulting in an input-referred conversion gain of 210 μV/e- and an input-referred noise of 1.9 e-. A high well capacity of 130000 e- is also achieved.
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