Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sony 1.4um Pixels and More

The recent Sony Cx-News vol. 56 magazine is almost entirely devoted to new image sensor products.

IMX045PQ/IMX046PQ/IMX060PQ family of CMOS sensors is based on new 1.4um pixels and targeted to cellular phones.

IMX045PQ has diagonal of 4.5 mm (Type 1/4) 5.15M effective pixels with frame rate of 22.5fps.
IMX046PQ has a diagonal of 5.76 mm (Type 1/3.2) 8.11M effective pixels with frame rate of 15fps.
IMX060PQ has a diagonal of 7.1 mm (Type 1/2.5) 12.25M effective pixels with 10fps frame rate.

Whole family supports 720p and 1080p HD video with 27-30fps rate and has 2-lane MIPI interface.

The new camera phone modules IU046F and IU060F are based on 8MP and 12MP 1.4um sensors. They feature 4-element/4-group plastic lens with piezoelectric AF actuator:

New series of ICX667/ICX677 CCDs has 1.55um pixels. It is an incremental shrink of the previous generation having 1.68um pixels. The 1/2.3-inch CCDS have 12MP resolution and offer 720p 30fps HD video.

Yet another IMX035LQR 1.39MP 1/3-inch CMOS sensor is intended for high speed industrial applications. It achieves 120fps frame rate at full resolution.


  1. Anyone know what the green rectangles (embedded between the board and flex) are?

  2. From the full PDF specs, the module height of 6.5mm does not including the flex PC board. I'd guess the green recangles are to indicate where to start counting the height.

    Assuming this cross section is proportionally accurate, seems the people at Sony decided to play it safe. It would be posslbe to reduce the module height by quite a bit by reducing the thickness of the various substrates and flex boards under the sensor's image plane.

    Sensor die can be reduced from 0.4mm to 0.2mm easily, and possibly even 0.1mm if one was skilled in handling a large thin wafer. The board is around 0.6mm, this can be reduced to 0.4mm without problems on the SMT and COB sides of the process. The Flex PCB is also very thick, weighing in at 0.4mm (not very flexible at all). This could be reduced to 0.15mm without adverse problems in-process. It would be possible to have a module shorter than 6mm as per Sony's way of measurement by just changing the packaging material thickness

  3. the green rectangles look like PCB traces to me in cross section. perhaps they are the reflowed solder balls for a surface mounting of the module?

  4. It is unlikely the green rectangles are solder balls. I think the board and flex PCB are delivered in 1 part from the flex manufacturer.

    The reasoning is if the sensor package cavity is sent into SMT and COB bonded and sealed into a discrete package, and then the discrete sensor package is then placed on a seperate piece of flex and passed through SMT again, There will be the following problems

    1. Sensor quality might degrade as it is passed through SMT twice during the process, there might be additional microlens surface distortions causing optical problems

    2. The solder used inside the discrete sensor package to hold the passives and eeprom in place will boil again when they are passed through SMT, this will cause small amounts of outgassing of solder flux and this gas could adhere to the sensor surface causing a foggy image.

    3. The solder will flow in an undeterministic way if there is any type of epoxy causing pressure on the components on top. Sort of like squeezing toothpaste between 2 hard surfaces, except it is solder.

    I think the most likely process is

    1. SMT components are put onto the Board + Flex part and run through SMT
    2. The Flex with components is now cleaned in a solution to remove any excess flux and then dried
    3. The entire flex board then put into a plasma process to remove organic materials from the COB bonding fingers.
    4. Die Bond
    5. Wire Bond
    6. Clean and dry the entire flex assembly again
    7. The package window frame with IRCF is then places on the flex and cured
    8. Motor and Lens assembly is then combined with the sensor assembly.
    9. Motor assembly pin outs are spot soldered at room temperature
    9. Final Adjustments to lens and testing of motor assembly.


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