Terahertz CMOS debuts at ISSCC
February 22, 2012 // R. Colin Johnson
Downsizing big bulky terahertz (THz) detectors for integration on CMOS image chips has been accomplished by the University of Texas (Dallas) with funding from the Semiconductor Research Corporation. (SRC). Accomplished under SRC’s Focus Research Program, the demonstration of terahertz speeds on standard CMOS opens a door for a new slew of consumer devices that can see through solid objects.
"We can now build a CMOS image chip for a cell-phone-sized camera module that sees in the terahertz range," said Ken O, a professor and lead researcher for SRC’s program at UT Dallas and a key investigator in the Center for Circuit and System Solutions, a part of SRC’s Focus Center Research Program.
Today terahertz cameras are used, for instance, in the airport to see inside luggage and under clothing to detect hidden weapons, but the devices require expensive discrete components. By downsizing terahertz sensors for standard CMOS chips, the terahertz camera can be both size and cost reduced in the extreme.
"Inexpensive handheld terahertz cameras could be used to detect counterfeit money or documents, to see inside envelopes or packages, or to find where the studs, wires and pipes are in walls," said O.
The key to SRC's successful integration of terahertz imager on-a-chip is the discovery that high-speed Schottky diodes can be easily fabricated in CMOS. Even at the relaxed design rules of130 nanometer used for the demonstration chip, the high-speed Schottky diodes were able to achieve THz-range performance without changing the standard CMOS processing steps.
"We have figured out how to create high-speed Schottky diodes in CMOS without changing the process, just the layout," said O. "We just take an active region where a transistor would normally go, and don't draw the source-drain implantation mask layer, resulting in a Schottky diode."
All the details on how to make terahertz image arrays using Schottky diodes is presented in a paper entitled "280 GHz and 860 GHz Image Sensors Using Schottky-Barrier Diodes in 0.13 µm Digital CMOS," at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference this week in San Francisco.
Many other application areas should be able to profit from terahertz CMOS, which works as well as x-rays, but which are safe, non-destructive and non-invasive. Besides terahertz cameras, the new high-speed Schottky diode process should also enable cheaper safer medical scanners, cost-reduced security systems, and high-speed telecommunications applications.
The results of all the technologies developed with SRC-funded projects are available to other members which include Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Freescale Semiconductor Inc., Globalfoundries Inc., IBM Corp., Intel Corp., and Texas Instruments Inc. All news
ADCs for high dynamic range – successive-approximation or sigma-delta?
September 01, 2014
Maithil Pachchigar, an applications engineer with Analog Devices Inc., looks at trade-offs that must be considered when choosing ...
Microchip in Pursuit of CSR
Samsung Funds III-V FinFETs in US Lab
A question of Europe
Trinamic's stepper motor package gets you started
Winged parcel delivery: Google's way
August 29, 2014
While there is still debate about if legislation would ever allow swarms of commercial drones to fly over our heads, Google ...
Two-inch Super AMOLED display fits Samsung smartwatch plans
UK armed forces consider lithium sulfur batteries
Small cell market to hit $4.8 billion in five years
- Power Modules: The New Super Power
- Flexible Performance for Network Security Appliances
- Digital Power Management Reduces Energy Costs While Improving System Performance
- Using RF Recording Techniques to Resolve Interference Problems
InterviewA question of Europe
Sir Peter Bonfield sits on the board and has advisory roles in many international companies and universities. With more than 45 years of experience in electronics, computers and communications, here he ...
Filter WizardCheck out the Filter Wizard Series of articles by Filter Guru Kendall Castor-Perry which provide invaluable practical Analog Design guidelines.
Linear video channel
READER OFFERRead more
This month, Trinamic Motion Control is offering you to win one of four TMCM-1043 development kits for its highly integrated, NEMA 17-compatible TMCM-1043 stepDancer stepper motor module.
Offering designers an easy-to-use PC-based GUI that allows one-click modification of motor drive current, micro-stepping and other key parameters, the intuitive kits are custom designed and developed for...MORE INFO AND LAST MONTH' WINNERS...
December 15, 2011 | Texas instruments | 222901974
Unique Ser/Des technology supports encrypted video and audio content with full duplex bi-directional control channel over a single wire interface.