Monday, January 21, 2019

Graphene-based SWIR G-Imager

Emberion, Graphenea, and AMO have been approved a European Innovation Council Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) project to help bring to the market the G-IMAGER, a graphene imager based on graphene-on-wafer technology. The G-Imager is a SWIR detector for applications in semiconductor inspection, sorting systems, spectroscopy hyperspectral imaging and surveillance. The projected market size for SWIR cameras in 2020 is around $1 billion.

The G-Imager will be based on the scientifically proven operation of a graphene channel coupled to nanocrystal light absorbers. The nanocrystals serve the function of strong light absorbers for high efficiency, whereas the graphene channel efficiently transports the generated charge to electrical contacts for detection. The benefits of G-Imager compared to other SWIR detectors, apart from the dramatic cost reduction, will be a lack of cooling requirements, low noise, large dynamic range, broad spectral range and scalable pixel size. These benefits guarantee quick market uptake of the product beyond the project duration, which is 24 months.

To bring G-Imager to the market, the project consortium will have to tackle challenges related to maturing the innovation. Namely, the production process yield for the detectors meeting a specified set of quality requirements must be guaranteed at a minimum of 85%, which is an industry standard. The technology readiness level must be raised to level 8, while scaling up the production process to meet volume requirements. Graphenea will scale up production of 200mm graphene-on-wafers to 10,000 wafers/year. A key project goal is integration into semiconductor production processes, such that G-Imager production is compatible with demanding requirements of the foundries where high-volume semiconductor device production takes place, like the foundry at AMO GmbH. AMO will develop a new “graphene device foundry service” to industrialize production of the photodetector. The SWIR detector production will be finalized at Emberion, where VGA resolution imager products will be made by depositing and patterning photosensitive materials on the graphene devices. Product finalization includes encapsulation, dicing and packaging the final imager products and integrating them into Emberion’s camera core products.

The consortium expects the project to assist in raising the cumulative net income of the consortium members to 60M€ in 4 years.

In a separate announcement, Emberion is to present a cost-competitive 512× 1 pixel VIS-SWIR linear array sensor for visible light to shortwave infrared (VIS-SWIR) detection at SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco. The sensor provides superior and consistent responsivity with very low noise over the broad (400 – 1800 nm) spectral range. The sensor is primarily designed for spectrometry applications. The sensor comprises an array of 25 × 500 µm2 pixels monolithically built on a tailor-made CMOS ROIC.

Beyond the linear array product introduced, Emberion will offer VGA imagers in late 2019. These VGA sensors cover the same VIS-SWIR spectral range (400-1800 nm wavelength) and are well suited for night and machine vision as well as hyperspectral imaging.

A 2017 Nature paper explains how the company's graphene imagers work:

Oppo Unveils Triple Camera with 10x Zoom for Smartphones, Wide-zone Optical Fingerprint Sensor

PRNewswire: OPPO reveales its forthcoming smartphone 10x lossless zoom technology meets commercial standards and is ready for mass production:

"OPPO has developed a triple-camera solution consisting of "Ultra Wide Angle + Ultra Clear Master + Telephoto". The ultra-wide-angle camera has an equivalent focal range of 15.9mm, bringing a unique capability to the wide-angle viewfinder. The primary camera guarantees photo quality, and the telephoto camera, with 159mm equivalent focal range, combined with the original "peep-up structure" to support high-magnification zoom, can ensure a high-quality long-distance shot.

To maintain image quality at all ranges, OPPO has introduced dual OIS optical image stabilization on both standard and telephoto cameras.

Oppo also keeps developing its periscope-based design of 10x optical zoom camera and reports that the design passed the drop tests.

OPPO also releases a new wide zone on-screen optical fingerprint recognition technology with recognition area up to 15 times of the current mainstream optical solution. The new optical fingerprint recognition includes two-finger simultaneous entry and authentication, achieving a security level 50,000 times of that of a single fingerprint.

Sofradir and ULIS to Invest €150M in French Nano 2022 Program

ALA News: Sofradir and its subsidiary ULIS announce their participation in the Nano 2022 initiative, which sees the Group invest €150M ($171M) over the period 2018-2022.

This announcement follows the European Commission’s approval on December 18, 2018 of the ‘Important Project of Common European Interest’ (IPCEI), a joint project by France, Germany, Italy and the UK to give €1.75 billion (approx. $2bn) in public support for research and innovation in microelectronics.

Nano 2022 will enable ULIS to develop the next generations of IR detectors to address trends in autonomous systems for smart buildings (workspace management, energy savings), road safety and in-cabin comfort of vehicles. It also enables Sofradir to develop the very large dimension IR detectors needed for space and astronomy observations as well as compact and light sensors that can be used in portable devices and on drones. Nano 2022 contributes to the funding of the pilot lines required for developing these technologies and products.

Fraunhofer Vision Sensor Video

Fraunhofer vision sensor presentation at Vision Show 2018 has been published by SpectroNet:

Sunday, January 20, 2019

TSMC Updates on CIS Process Development

On January 1st, TSMC published 2017 Annual Report and Business Overview with an info on CIS process development:
  • 0.13µm SPAD technology platform speeds up customer product development of LiDAR applications. Customers can use TSMC’s SPAD platform to achieve the best time-to-market, which will accelerate LiDAR’s use in automotive and security industries.
  • TSMC expanded its technology for optical fingerprint sensing, from 0.18µm and 0.11µm CMOS image sensors to collimator, enabling customers to customize their optical fingerprint sensors. Fingerprint sensing is a critical authentication scheme for many electronic communications and payment systems.
  • A high-performance sub-micron pixel development was completed and made ready for mass production;
  • NIR QE gained significant boost by innovative structure and usage of new material
  • Pitch density of wafer bond technology was pushed higher to maintain the Company’s world-wide leading position
  • Q&R worked with customers to complete stacked CIS Column Level Hybrid Bond (CLHB) process/product qualification and successfully shipped to customers in 2017

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Autosens Brussels 2018 Videos

Autosens publishes a couple of more videos from its 2018 conference in Brussels, Belgium:

Friday, January 18, 2019

FLIR Explains Sony 3rd Generation Pregius Features

ClearViewImaging publishes FLIR (PointGrey) presentation on image sensor technology news, explaining Sony 3rd generation Pregius sensor features among other things:

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Swiss Eye Tracking Startup Raises $1.9m

Swiss startup Eyeware develops 3D eye tracking software for depth sensing enabled consumer devices, such as Microsoft Kinect, Intel RealSense, Orbbec Astra, etc. How do they track gaze from low-resolution 3D images?

"Generally speaking: We require a low-resolution 3D pixel cloud of the face and eye regions and are agnostic to the underlying technology. It works as well for ToF sensors (i.e. non-RGB images). Our software uses that input to model the head pose and eye regions, providing the gaze vector in real-time."

Eyeware announces the closing of its seed financing round of 1.9M CHF ($1.9M USD). The seed round was led by High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), in partnership with TRUMPF Venture GmbH, Swiss Startup Group, and Zurich Kantonalbank.

Eyeware is a spin-off of Idiap Research Institute and EPFL created in September 2016. Eyeware software can use automotive grade ToF cameras to estimate attention of drivers for in-cabin monitoring and infotainment systems. The capital will be used by the Eyeware team to bring the 3D eye tracking development kit ready for integration into consumer applications.

SiOnyx Receives $20m Award for US Army Night Vision Project

BusinessWire: SiOnyx announces a $19.9m award for the delivery of digital night vision cameras for the IVAS (Integrated Visual Augmentation System) program.

BBC on Camera Damage by LiDAR

BBC publishes its version of the camera damage by CES LiDAR story. It turns out that the owner of camera has quite an extensive experience with LiDARs. He sort of confirms that the problem might be specific to Aeye LiDAR:

"I have personally tested many lidar systems and taken pictures up close and [they] did not harm my camera."