Thursday, November 14, 2019

Sony Stacked Sensor Tutorial

IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society publishes a short tutorial "Circuit Configurations on stacked CMOS Image Sensor" presented at 2019 VLSI Conference by Yusuke Oike, Deputy Senior General Manager and Distinguished Engineer at Sony:

Espros Demos 65m ToF Imaging at Night

Espros ToF imagers show a remarkable range of 65m in absence of sunlight:

TowerJazz Q3 2019 Earnings Call

SeekingAlpha: TowerJazz updates on its image sensor business during its quarterly earnings call:

"Looking at our sensor business, we have new projects in the pipeline with large customers on our 65-nanometre global shutter platform that we expect will materialize towards the end of next year. While sales of the existing products are still growing. Although soft year-to-date, the industrial sensor market is beginning to recover and we’ve received double digit growth through 2020.

Our recent announcement of a wafer stacking backside illumination flow connecting a top thin BSI imaging wafer to a bottom CMOS wafer on our 65 nanometers, 300-millimeter technology has generated much interest. We’re in various engagements with significant customers for projects using this technology and the time of flight market mainly for face recognition.

We also continue our work with multiple customers on optical fingerprint solutions for under OLED and under LCD displays as well as we are seeing good adoption of our stitch single die, 300-millimeter substrate x-ray sensors.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Quantum and Classical Images Separation

Science Magazine publishes a paper "Quantum image distillation" by Hugo Defienne, Matthew Reichert, Jason W. Fleischer, and Daniele Faccio from University of Glasgow, UK, and Princeton University, USA. The same paper has already been published in

"Imaging with quantum states of light promises advantages over classical approaches in terms of resolution, signal-to-noise ratio, and sensitivity. However, quantum detectors are particularly sensitive sources of classical noise that can reduce or cancel any quantum advantage in the final result. Without operating in the single-photon counting regime, we experimentally demonstrate distillation of a quantum image from measured data composed of a superposition of both quantum and classical light. We measure the image of an object formed under quantum illumination (correlated photons) that is mixed with another image produced by classical light (uncorrelated photons) with the same spectrum and polarization, and we demonstrate near-perfect separation of the two superimposed images by intensity correlation measurements. This work provides a method to mix and distinguish information carried by quantum and classical light, which may be useful for quantum imaging, communications, and security."

PMD Demos its Multipath Reduction Approach

IEEE Sensor publishes PMD and Seigen University demo video on ToF multipath distortions reduction:

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Teledyne e2v Re-Announces 1.3MP ToF Sensor

Eight months after the first announcement, Teledyne e2v announces one more time its Bora ToF CMOS sensor for 3D detection and distance measurement in industrial applications, including vision guided robotics, logistics and surveillance.

Based on a 10µm pixel design and incorporating a resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels, the Bora image sensor offers a unique on-chip gated global shutter mode with gating times of up to 42ns at 30fps in a four-phase operation.

The Bora sensor comes with an evaluation kit, comprised of a compact 1-inch optical format calibrated module, which includes a light source for near infrared illumination. It also includes optics targeted at performing the ToF imaging at short-range distances to 5m or mid-range distances to 10m, while capturing real-time 3D information at a full resolution of 1.3MP.

Ha Lan Do Thu, Marketing Manager for 3D imaging at Teledyne e2v says, “We are very pleased to announce our newest Time-of-Flight sensor, which provides customers with true 1.3MP depth resolution at more than 30 fps. The sensor uniquely achieves excellent precision and accuracy in 3D measurements and is highly flexible, handling both short- and long-range capture over 10 meters and in outdoor conditions.

Omnivision Unveils VGA GS Sensor with Lightguide

PRNewswire: OmniVision announces a 3um pixel OV7251-2B global shutter sensor with shutter efficiency of 99.96% for machine vision applications. The cost-effective OV7251-2B achieves that by adding a new lightguide feature that improves the angular response of light capture for better system-level optical performance.

"We are improving on our widely deployed family of global shutter VGA sensors by providing a drop-in replacement for our prior generation sensor that offers an even better level of shutter efficiency with no design changes required," said Devang Patel, senior staff marketing manager for the security and emerging segments at OmniVision. "Additionally, our new lightguide feature improves the family's capture capabilities with better light confinement for higher system level optical performance."

Monday, November 11, 2019

Ink for Image Sensor Printing

University of Toronto publishes an ACS paper "Stable Colloidal Quantum Dot Inks Enable Inkjet-Printed High-Sensitivity Infrared Photodetectors" by Rafal Sliz, Marc Lejay, James Z. Fan, Min-Jae Choi, Sachin Kinge, Sjoerd Hoogland, Tapio Fabritius, F. Pelayo García de Arquer, and Edward H. Sargent.

"Colloidal quantum dots (CQDs) have recently gained attention as materials for manufacturing optoelectronic devices in view of their tunable light absorption and emission properties and compatibility with low-temperature thin-film manufacture. The realization of CQD inkjet-printed infrared photodetectors has thus far been hindered by incompatibility between the chemical processes that produce state-of-the-art CQD solution-exchanged inks and the requirements of ink formulations for inkjet materials processing.

We fabricate inkjet-printed photodetectors exhibiting the highest specific detectivities reported to date (above 1012 Jones across the IR) in an inkjet-printed quantum dot film. As a patternable CMOS-compatible process, the work offers routes to integrated sensing devices and systems.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

TechInsights Pixel Zoo

Recently, Techinsights published a number of pixel pictures from its reverse engineering reports.

Samsung S5K2P7SQ ISOCELL Fast 16MP 30fps sensor with 1.12um pixel:

Sony IMX307 STARVIS 2.1MP sensor with 2.9um pixels:

Sony IMX402 ToF sensor:

Sony IMX410 full-frame sensor from Sony A7 III mirrorless camera:

Sony IMX250MZR Global Shutter polarization-sensitive CIS with 3.45um pixels:

SmartSens SC130GS Global Shutter CIS:

SK Hynix Hi-1332 CIS from Huawei RNE-AL00 front-facing camera module:

SiOnyx XQE-1310 IR-enhanced sensor:

ON Semiconductor AR0521 5.1MP sensor with 2.2um pixels:

OmniVision OS05A20 (OMN-OSE523) 5MP IR-enhanced Nyxel sensor with 2um pixels:

Sony 12 MP CIS from iPhone XS Max Rear-Facing Wide-Angle Camera:

Contamination at Samsung 8" Giheung Fab

BusinessKorea reports that Samsung foundry was affected by defects at its Giheung fab that manufactures 90nm image sensors among other products. "The defects were caused by the use of contaminated equipment on an 8-inch wafer line located in Samsung Electronics' Giheung Plant in Korea. A Samsung Electronics official acknowledged that defective products were found, but said that the process has already been normalized and that the damage is estimated at billions of Korean won.

However, some experts say that the damage may be much more than estimated by Samsung Electronics. "I understand that Samsung has not calculated the exact amount of the damage yet," said an industry insider. "The loss can be much larger than the company’s estimate.

LiDAR News: Velodyne, Robosense, Cepton, Blickfeld, Leddar

Silicon Valley Business Journal reports that Velodyne CEO and Founder David Hall prepares to take the company public, but in an unconventional way of "direct listing" - selling shares direct to the public without an intermediate entity like NASDAQ:

"Only two major companies, Spotify and Slack Technologies, have gone that route so far. Businesses that take the direct listing route make their Wall Street debuts without the road shows and price-setting that underwriters help with. But they don't get the infusion of cash that accompanies a traditional IPO, either. Hall doesn't sound convinced that would change his mind.

"It turns out to be a lot more work for us," he said. "It looks daunting from my point of view, so I'm dragging my feet on the thing. The last few weeks have not been kind to IPOs either."

Velodyne Lidar is valued at about $1.8 billion after raising about $225 million from investors who include Nikon, Ford Motor Co. and Baidu, according to PitchBook Data.

BusinessWire: RoboSense wins the CES 2020 Innovation Award the second year in a row. This year’s Award is for the first MEMS-based Smart LiDAR Sensor, the RoboSense RS-LiDAR-M1, winning in the Vehicle Intelligence and Self-Driving Technology category. RS-LiDAR-M1 is said to be the world’s first and only MEMS-based smart LiDAR sensor for self-driving passenger vehicles with its own embedded AI algorithm technologies and SoC.

BusinessWire: Cepton announces its Helius Smart Lidar System has been named a CES 2020 Innovation Awards Honoree. Helius is honored in two categories: Tech for a Better World, which highlights product innovations aiming to make positive social and global impacts.

Helius fuses three technologies: Cepton’s patented Micro Motion Technology (MMT); edge computing for minimum data burden and maximum ease of integration; and built-in advanced perception software for real-time analytics.

Blickfeld too receives CES 2020 Award in Vehicle Intelligence & Transportation category. Blickfeld LiDARs use centimeter-sized mirrors with a scanning angle of up to 100° x 30° resulting in a range of up to 100 meters at 10 % reflectivity. The optical coaxial setup provides spatial filtering to achieve the highest sunlight suppression. Solid-state technology ensures mechanical robustness and longevity.

Leddar PIXELL wins CES 2020 Award in Vehicle Intelligence & Transportation category. Pixell is a 3D flash LiDAR solution with a 180-degree field of view specifically designed for ADAS and Autonomous driving applications on autonomous shuttles, commercial vehicles, transit buses, and robotaxis. It leverages LeddarTech's state-of-the-art LCA2 LeddarEngine at its core.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Rumors and Other Questionable News

Digitimes publishes an article saying that "Samsung Electronics is reportedly set to implement a US$100 billion sensor development project seeking to tap the lucrative worldwide sensor market."

SparrowNews quotes Chinese sources talking about "Sony Black Technology" used in not-yet-announced IMX686 sensor for smartphones:

"Sony officially said that Sony Black Technology not only created a variety of high-quality professional imaging equipment, but also provided a core component - image sensor for many brands of smartphones. The new year is not far off, let's look at the performance of the 2020 new cable image sensor." (Google translation)

"Sony's black technology not only creates a variety of high-quality professional imaging equipment, but also for a number of brands of smartphones to take pictures of the core components - image sensors. The new year is not far away, together to see the performance of the new 2020 Sotheby's image sensor." (Microsoft Bing translation)

SinoLink Securities expects Sony to unveil its 64MP 0.8um sensor till the end of this year. Possibly, the IMX686 is this sensor:

Trieye SWIR Sensor Wins CES Innovation Awards

PRNewswire: Israeli SWIR startup TriEye wins two CES 2020 Innovation Awards. TriEye's technology was selected as a recipient in the Embedded Technologies category, as well as Vehicle Intelligence and Transportation.

TriEye is breaking the status-quo of lidar, radar, and standard vision cameras with its CMOS-based SWIR camera. The company's advanced nanophotonics research enables a mass-produced, small size, HD SWIR camera at 1000x lower cost than the current technology.

"CES is an amazing showcase of the future of mobility and we are honored to be recognized by technology experts from the CES Innovation Awards," said Avi Bakal, CEO and Co-Founder of TriEye. "TriEye is committed to saving lives by reducing risks of car accidents in all weather and lighting conditions. We will continue to pave the way for the next generation of ADAS and AV functions with SWIR as a critical element in the necessary sensor fusion solution, enhancing vision at an affordable price."

"While TriEye's primary target market is the automotive industry, its technology is highly applicable to a wide range of other sectors, including mobile, industrial, security and optical inspection," said Ziv Livne, VP Product and Business Development of TriEye - "The company intends to address challenges and opportunities in these fields in the near future."

Thursday, November 07, 2019

ON Semi Sensors in Bad Weather

ON Semi promotional video talks about its image sensor operation in inclement weather conditions:

Himax Presents Q3 2019 Results

GlobeNewswire: Himax announces its Q3 2019 results and related investors presentation:

"On CMOS image sensor business update. CMOS image sensor is another critical part of the WiseEye 2.0 NB solution I just mentioned. To support the lean camera design and high-quality image needed for laptops with thin bezels, we have made a 2-in-1 sensor that offers the duo capabilities of high quality HD image capturing and ultra-low-power, low resolution visual sensing in one single sensor, the industry’s first with the innovative design.

With this sensor, laptop makers can simplify their next generation product design and save costs by eliminating the need for an additional camera in their effort to offer context awareness for better user experience. In addition, our sensor has incorporated an RGBIR design to enable Windows Hello facial recognition. The new CMOS sensor will be available by the end of 2019.

For the traditional human vision segments, we see strong demand in notebooks, where we are one of the market leaders, and increased shipments for multimedia applications such as car recorders, surveillance, drones, home appliances, and consumer electronics, among others. Additionally, we have seen increased shipments and new design-wins in the automotive segment covering before-market solutions such as surround view and rearview camera.

Next on WiseEye, our AI-based ultra-low power smart sensing solution. The demand for battery-powered smart device with AI intelligent sensing is rapidly growing. Our total solution is built on Emza’s unique AI-based algorithm, on top of Himax’s proprietary computer vision processor and CMOS image sensor, all equipped with ultra-low power design. Currently laptop is the market of focus. Himax WiseEye 2.0 NB solution provides a ‘laptop-ready’ 3-in-1 RGB/IR/AI solution, respecting privacy while enhancing security for notebook users. The prototype we announced during Computex 2019 has been well received by leading CPU platform providers and laptop end customers who are now actively evaluating the technology. We are expected to demo the mass production version on laptops at the 2020 CES.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

SPW 2019 Materials

Single Photon Workshop held in Politecnico di Milano, Italy, on Oct 21-25, 2019 publishes a book of its extended abstracts. Just a few of the interesting materials from the book:

Towards General-Purpose Passive Imaging with Single-Photon Sensors by Atul Ingle, Andreas Velten, Mohit Gupta, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA:

Quanta Image Sensor Progress by Jiaju Ma, Stanley Chan, and Eric R. Fossum, Gigajot Technology Corporation, Pasadena, CA, USA:

CMOS-SPAD arrays for Quantum Imaging Applications by L. Gasparini, M. Zarghami, M. Perenzoni, L. Parmesan, M. M. Garcia, V. Mitev, L. Balet, N. Torcheboeuf, D. Boiko, M. Unternährer, B. Bessire, A. Stefanov from Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento, Italy, CSEM, Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and Institute of Applied Physics, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

A Novel Approach to High Dynamic Range Imaging with CMOS-SPADs by Majid Zarghami, Leonardo Gasparini, Matteo Perenzoni, and Lucio Pancheri from Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK), Center for Material and Microsystems (CMM), Trento, Italy, and Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Trento, Trento, Italy:

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Digitimes Compares Sony and Samsung Approaches

Digitimes Research: Sony and Samsung use different approaches in CIS competition:
  • Sony leverages the success of its 48MP sensors for smartphones and beats on integration of AI functionality onto the sensor
  • Samsung is trying to leapfrog Sony with 108MP smartphone chips and uses better process scaling capability to achieve higher pixel density
  • Sony controls 50% of CIS market
  • Smartphone CIS account for 60% of the market
  • Automotive CIS grow at a CAGR of 29.7% from 2019-2023

Monday, November 04, 2019

Consumer Camera Sensors Comparison

MDPI publishes a paper "Photographic Noise Performance Measures Based on RAW Files Analysis of Consumer Cameras" by by Jorge Igual from Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain.

"Photography is being benefited from the huge improvement in CMOS image sensors. New cameras extend the dynamic range allowing photographers to take photos with a higher quality than they could imagine one decade ago. However, the existence of different technologies make more complicated the photographic analysis of how to determine the optimal camera exposure settings. In this paper, we analyze how the different noise models are translated to different signal to noise SNR curve patterns and which factors are relevant. In particular, we discuss profoundly the relationships between exposure settings (shutter speed, aperture and ISO). Since a fair comparison between cameras can be tricky because of different pixel size, sensor format or ISO scale definition, we explain how the pixel analysis of a camera can be translated to a more helpful universal photographic noise measure based on human perception and common photography rules. We analyze the RAW files of different camera models and show how the noise performance analysis (SNR and dynamic range) interact with photographer’s requirements."

Axcelis Talks about 12MeV Ion Implanter for Image Sensors

Axcelis Q3 earnings call mentions 12MeV implanter for image sensors:

"The ...high energy product targets the most advanced image sensors. A Purion XE Max incorporates our new proprietary beam technology to deliver energy in excess of 12 MeV as well as the industry's lowest metal contamination.

The ...areas that are driving growth in mature process technology are image sensors and also power devices. Those segments for us remain very strong as customers come online with additional capacity.

During the third quarter, memory accounted for just 14% of our shipments, with the majority of shipments, 86% going to mature foundry/logic customers, particularly those manufacturing power devices and image sensors.

We expect revenues in Q4 to rebound due to increasing activity in China and continued investment by mature foundry/logic customers, particularly those with an emphasis on image sensors and power devices.

So as the new products are high energy implanters, the high energy market has been increasing as a result of demand for multiple high energy implant steps in image sensor and power device applications. This segment now accounts for 30% of the implant TAM.

Axcelis and Omnivision white paper shows quite deep doping profiles even with the older generation of their high energy implanters: