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ABSTRACTThis paper will begin with a review of the more commonly encountered image-sensor architectures and a brief discussion of their relative performance characteristics. Significant events leading to the realization of today's sensors will be presented. The main thrust will be to describe the underlying physical principles that affect and limit the performance attainable from silicon based imaging devices. The optimization of an image sensor for a particular application involves an understanding of the physics of the optical interface, the mechanisms of collection within the silicon, and the techniques of implementing the readout of this information. Each of these areas will be discussed in detail. A fundamental description of the physics will be presented along with the compromises that must be accepted due to the limits of today's technology. The origin of the performance trade-offs for the differing architectures will become evident from the discussion. Finally the future of solid-state imagers in scientific applications will also be discussed.

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