Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Imaging Resource on Nikon Image Sensor Design

Imaging Resource publishes a very nice article "Pixels for Geeks: A peek inside Nikon’s super-secret sensor design lab" by Dave Etchells. There is quite a lot on Nikon-internal stuff that has been publicly released for the first time. Just a few interesting quotes out of many:

"Nikon actually designs their own sensors, to a fairly minute level of detail. I think this is almost unknown in the photo community; most people just assume that “design” in Nikon’s case simply consists of ordering-up different combinations of specs from sensor manufacturers.

In actuality, they have a full staff of sensor engineers who design cutting-edge sensors like those in the D5 and D850 from the ground up, optimizing their designs to work optimally with NIKKOR lenses and Nikon's EXPEED image-processor architecture.

As part of matching their sensors to NIKKOR optics, Nikon’s sensor designers pay a lot of attention to the microlenses and the structures between them and the silicon surface. Like essentially all camera sensors today, Nikon’s microlenses are offset a variable amount relative to the pixels beneath, to compensate for light rays arriving at oblique angles near the edges of the array.

Apparently, Nikon uses Silvaco tools for pixel device and process simulations:


  1. Interesting. Who does their fab? They had a least one sensor they had designed themselves and had fabbed at Renesas, but that fab exited the sensor business.

    Who are they using now?

  2. The second TCAD figure is probably the heat map of electrostatic potential after transfer? If it is electron density, the lag is pretty bad...

    1. Caption is as follows (reading is fundamental!):

      Modern CAD software can simulate processes like ion implantation in almost unbelievable detail. This illustration shows an example from Silvaco's SSuprem 4™, a 2D process simulator that's widely used in the semiconductor industry for design, analysis and optimization of different fabrication technologies. Here, it's simulating an ion implant process by blasting simulated dopant ions at a simulated wafer with photoresist on top, that's meant to define the implant area. As you can see, it's not a straightforward process; dopant atoms bounce off of the photoresist molecules, and end up in places you don't want them.

    2. This question tells more about the person asking the question than about the figure in the article ....

  3. There really are no stupid questions and the caption was not preserved for this site so cut the original poster some slack or people will stop asking questions and assuming they're right, which would be much worse in my opinion.


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