CCD vs CMOS Sensor: Which one is appropriate for Camera Applications?

CCD vs CMOS sensor

In the current age of AI, imaging systems are evolving to replace the human eye. Imaging is an exponentially growing mode of data acquisition and collection. Imaging is used to gather all kinds of data such as age, gender, height, etc. of people standing at a signal, using a vending machine, visiting a shop, crossing the road, passing by a kiosk, registering at some conference, ordering a coffee, boarding a flight, etc. Apart from people, imaging also helps collect data on vehicles, packages, animals, birds, fish, medicines, groceries, and so on.

In this digital era, let’s keep our focus on digital sensors. Digital imaging sensors can be categorized into two types, CCD and CMOS, based on their building blocks. Let’s delve into these types of digital sensors that are in the market.

Charge Coupled Devices (CCD)

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A Charge Coupled Device, or CCD, is a semiconductor component that transforms visual data into digital signals. It is based on MOS technology with a MOS capacitor as the building block. Each cell of a CCD image sensor is an analog device, and it can be considered a photo sensor.

A photoelectric sensor can determine if a target of a given size is present or absent at a given place. When light strikes the chip, it is held as a small electrical charge in each photo sensor. CCDs are current-driven devices. It collects a charge in its pixels (basically capacitive bins), then physically shifts the charge on the imager surface to the output for sampling and digital conversion. The number of potential applications is substantially increased by the CCD, which is made up of hundreds to millions of sensors.

Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS)

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A CMOS sensor, also known as a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor sensor, is a type of electronic chip that converts photons into electrons for digital processing. Moreover, MOS FET amplifiers serve as the fundamental key components of CMOS sensors, which are primarily based on MOS technology.

In contrast to CCD, CMOS is a voltage-driven technology that converts photons into electrical energy by using the photoelectric effect. The electric charge from the photosensitive pixel at the pixel location in a CMOS image sensor can be changed to a voltage, and the signal is amplified through row and column before being received by a digital to analog converter chip. The voltage is digitalized on the imager after being sampled at the pixel.

CCD vs CMOS

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Charge Reading
CCD
In a CCD device, the charge is transported across the chip and read at one corner of the array. The ADC converter turns each pixel value into a digital value.
CMOS
In CMOS, there are transistors at each pixel that amplify and move the charge using traditional wires. Thus, each pixel is individual.

 

Manufacturing
CCD
CCDs use a special manufacturing process to create the ability to transport charge across the chip without distortion.
CMOS
CMOS chip use traditional manufacturing processes, the same process used to manufacture microprocessors, to create the chip.

 

Supply Chain and Market
CCD
The market for these sensors has decreased significantly over the past few decades as more sensor manufacturers abandon CCD technology.
CMOS
Compared to a huge universe of providers for CMOS sensors, you will probably have fewer possibilities if you are seeking a CCD supplier.

 

Quality & Noise
CCD
The high-end production process and the sensor architecture with a lower number of ADCs and amplifiers enable CCD to produce high-quality, low-noise images.
CMOS
CMOS production is done traditionally, and the architecture makes it susceptible to noise. Meanwhile, sensor manufacturers are constantly developing cutting-edge methods to improve the image quality of CMOS sensors.

 

Sensitivity
CCD
CCD architecture has the photodiode well exposed to the photons. Thus, the sensitivity is higher. For instance, compared to CMOS, CCD performs better while imaging in low-light areas.
CMOS
CMOS circuitry involves multiple layers of semiconductor material to take care of charge conversion and transport. Thus, photons need not always hit the photodiode, which in turn reduces the effective sensitivity that can be achieved. However, advanced technologies of CMOS sensors are assisting it to overtake CCD sensors.

 

Power Consumption
CCD
CCD uses a process that consumes a lot of power.
CMOS
CMOS is known for low power consumption. Its consumers have as much as 100 times lower power than CCD.

 

Cost
CCD
CCD is more expensive than CMOS because, among other things, it employs high-voltage analog circuits.
CMOS
When it comes to price, CMOS easily takes the lead. Because they can be produced using existing semiconductor manufacturing devices

 

Applications
CCD
CCD sensors are utilized in handheld devices, surveillance, personal computer, and other video cameras.
CMOS
From industrial automation to applications that rely on traffic control, CMOS sensors are being used.

Despite the two sensors’ many variances, they each serve the same purpose in the camera—converting light into electricity. You can imagine them as being almost similar equipment for the purposes of comprehending how a digital camera operates. But in the present technological world, CMOS sensors are far more advanced and evolving.

Most Users end up choosing CMOS Sensors

While CCDs have seen a halt in development, IT companies are improving CMOS image technology. Manufacturers of equipment that generate digital images, from basic cameras to the most sophisticated molecular imaging systems, must adjust to the advanced technologies as the entire industry switches over to CMOS and active pixels.

In comparison to CCD cameras, CMOS cameras are capable of greater frame rates. This is due to the fact that reading the pixels may be performed faster than waiting for the charge transfer of a CCD. For machine vision systems, which frequently depend on real-time image processing for automated processes or image data processing, this capability is crucial. However, the market’s endorsement of CMOS implies that consumers of imaging equipment can gain from continued technological advancements. CMOS sensors already outperform CCD sensors in terms of image quality, and this growth will continue.

Summing Up

The dynamic range on CMOS devices is often greater than on CCD devices (although not always). The fact that CCD cameras frequently have noisy electronics is one of the reasons, yet high-end CCD cameras can achieve a quantum efficiency of 90%, compared to CMOS cameras’ 40% at best. One thing to keep in mind is that CMOS sensors are a very new technology and will keep on improving over the next ten years.

In the past few years, the choice between CCD and CMOS is different, if you desired scientifically accurate images, then CCD was the choice, but it costs more and less speed. If you require consumer electronics and high-speed images, the choice was CMOS, but at a sacrifice to resolution. In conclusion, CMOS will advance more to overtake CCD as the predominant image technology in the future.

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