A Modular, Direct Time-of-Flight Depth Sensor in 45/65-nm 3-D-Stacked CMOS Technology

Augusto Ronchini Ximenes*, Preethi Padmanabhan, Myung Jae Lee, Yuichiro Yamashita, Dun Nian Yaung, Edoardo Charbon

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    60 Citations (Scopus)


    This article introduces a modular, direct time-of-flight (TOF) depth sensor. Each module is digitally synthesized and features a 2 × (8 × 8) single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) pixel array, an edge-sensitive decision tree, a shared time-to-digital converter (TDC), 21-bit per-pixel memory, and in-locus data processing. Each module operates autonomously, by internal data acquisition, management, and storage, being periodically read out by an external access. The prototype was fabricated in a TSMC 3-D-stacked 45/65-nm CMOS technology, featuring backside illumination (BSI) SPAD detectors on the top tier, and readout circuit on the bottom tier. The sensor was characterized by single-point measurements, in two different modes of resolution and range. In low-resolution mode, a maximum of 300-m and 80-cm accuracy was recorded; on the other hand, in high-resolution mode, the maximum range and accuracy were 150 m and 7 cm, respectively. The module was also used in a flexible scanning light detection and ranging (LiDAR) system, where a 256 × 256 depth map, with millimeter precision, was obtained. A laser signature based on pulse-position modulation (PPM) is also proposed, achieving a maximum of 28-dB interference reduction.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number8844705
    Pages (from-to)3203-3214
    Number of pages12
    JournalIEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


    • 3-D-stacking
    • Depth sensor
    • interference reduction
    • laser signature
    • light detection and ranging (LiDAR)
    • ranging imaging
    • single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD)
    • time-of-flight (TOF) imaging


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