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Frame transfer CCD


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A frame transfer CCD is a specialized CCD, often used in astronomy and some Professional video cameras, designed for high exposure efficiency and correctness.

The normal functioning of a CCD, astronomical or otherwise, can be divided into two phases: exposure and readout. During the first phase, the CCD passively collects incoming photons, storing electrons in its cells. After the exposure time is passed, the cells are read out one line at a time.

During the readout phase, cells are shifted down on the entire area of the CCD. While they are shifted, they continue to collect light. Thus, if the shifting is not fast enough, errors can result from light that falls on a cell that was not in its proper position. These errors are referred to as "vertical smear" and cause a strong light source to create a vertical line above and below its exact location. In addition, the CCD cannot be used to collect light while it is being read out. Unfortunately, a faster shifting requires a faster readout, and a faster readout can introduce errors in the cell charge measurement, leading to a higher noise level.

A frame transfer CCD solves both problems: it has a hidden, not normally used, area containing as many cells as the area exposed to light. Typically, this area is covered by a reflective material such as aluminium. When the exposure time is up, the cells are transferred very rapidly to the hidden area. Here, safe from any incoming light, cells can be read out at any speed one deems necessary to correctly meausure the cells' charge. At the same time, the exposed part of the CCD is collecting light again, so no delay occurs between successive exposures.

The downside of such a CCD is the higher cost: the cell area is basically doubled, and more complex control electronics are needed.

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Frame_transfer_CCD". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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