Image Sensors 2013 Conference in London, UK published interview with Junichi Nakamura, Director at Aptina. A few quotes:
Q: You have been involved in CMOS development since the beginning at JPL, what are the key development milestones you have witnessed?
A: "I think the key development milestones were; An introduction of the pinned photodiode (that was commonly used for the interline transfer CCDs) to the CMOS pixel, a shared pixel scheme for pixel size reduction and improvements in FPN suppression circuitry.
By the way, I consider then R&D efforts on on-chip ADC at JPL (led by Dr. Eric Fossum) was the origin of the current success of the CMOS image sensor.
Another aspect is; Big semiconductor companies acquired key start-up companies in late 1990's - early 2000's to establish CMOS image sensor business quickly. Examples include; STMicro acquired VVL, Micron acquired Photobit and Cypress acquired FillFactory.
Also, the biannual Image Sensor workshop has been playing an important role to share and discuss progress in CMOS imaging technologies."
Q: CMOS performance continues to improve with each new generation - what's the current R&D focus at Aptina?
A: "High-speed readout, while improving noise performance together, is the strength in our design. We will continue to focus on this. At the same time, our R&D group in the headquarter in San Jose focuses on pixel performance improvements."