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