Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Avalanche PD Thesis

University of Trento, Italy, publishes PhD Thesis "Application of Avalanche Detectors in Scientific and Industrial Measurement Systems" of Andrea Ficorella. The thesis overviews APD and SPAD operation and discusses ToF measurements with them:

"Geiger-Mode avalanche photodiodes (GM-APDs) are diodes designed to operate at a reverse voltage that exceeds the breakdown voltage (VBD). Their ability to detect single photons combined with their excellent timing resolution make them ideal for applications in which low amplitude signals need to be detected with sub-ns timing resolution. In the research activity reported in this dissertation two different applications of Geiger-Mode Avalanche Photo Diode arrays have been analysed: a two-tier GM-APD array with inpixel coincidence for particle tracking and a direct Time-of-Flight range meter with a SiPM-based receiver."

Sony Establishes AI R&D Organization

EETimes: Sony launches Sony AI, a new organization to pursue advanced R&D in artificial intelligence. The AI research sites will be in Tokyo, Austin, Texas, and an unnamed city in Europe. Sony AI identified three “flagship” projects for its debut, in “gaming, imaging & sensing, and gastronomy,” according to the company.

Hiroaki Kitano, president and CEO, Sony Computer Science Laboratories, will run Sony AI globally. The US site’s chief will be Peter Stone, professor of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin.

Monday, November 18, 2019

LFoundry Presentation

Cern publishes LFoundry presentation "Technology development of CMOS Image sensors" by Andrea Del Monte. The presentation starts with the company somewhat entangled history leading to the recent acquisition by Wuxi Xichanweixin Semiconductor:

Goodix Nominated for Most Respected Public Semiconductor Company Award

Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) announces its 2019 award nominations with Goodix listed for Most Respected Public Semiconductor Company Achieving $500M to $1B in Annual Sales:

Macquarie Research on Smartphone Camera Trends

IFNews quotes Macquarie Research "surveyed a total of 132 smartphones launched in 2019 by the top 6 vendors – Samsung, Huawei, Apple, OPPO / Realme, vivo and Xiaomi. There are 489 cameras in total or an average of 3.7 cameras per device, with 1.0 front camera and 2.7 back cameras. About 45% of the 132 new devices adopted triple cameras, while quad camera penetration reached 18%."

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Yole's Analysis of Hybrid Bonding IP

Yole Developpement publishes "Hybrid Bonding: Patent Landscape Analysis" report:

"Generally, 2.5D-3D stacking was achieved thanks to Through Silicon Via (TSV) technology. However, TSVs are large and using them limits efforts to reach very dense architectures. Furthermore, filling TSVs with metals is complex and requires significant know how. To overcome these limitations, players have started to look at other solutions. A first step toward a new way of 3D stacking is ZiBond, developed by Ziptronix, a company founded in 2000 as a spin-out of Research Triangle Institute. ZiBond is an enhanced version of direct oxide bonding that involves wafer-to-wafer processing at low temperatures, from 150-300°C, to initiate high bond strengths, rivaling silicon. The next step was to combine the dielectric bond with embedded metal to simultaneously bond wafers or bond dies to wafers and form the interconnects. ZiBond is the dielectric bond that forms the basis for direct bonding interconnect (DBI) technology developed in 2005. Tessera, now called Xperi, acquired Ziptronix in 2015 and ZiBond and DBI were integrated in the Invensas subsidiary’s portfolio. This hybrid bonding technology is quickly becoming recognized as the preferred permanent bonding path to form high-density interconnects in heterogeneous integration applications, from 2D enhanced, to 3D stacking with or without TSVs, as well as MEMS.

After entering the CMOS Image Sensor (CIS) market in 2016, hybrid bonding technology has started to be investigated by other industries, such as memory. However, the hybrid bonding market’s growth follows Xperi’s developments. The company has adopted an aggressive strategy to assert its patents. Yet in parallel with the market and Xperi’s growth, some other players, like YMTC, Sony, Samsung and TSMC, have developed their own patent portfolios and strategies and are on the edge of releasing their first products using hybrid bonding processes. Understanding the IP landscape is becoming key to evaluate the risks and opportunities that go with the development and use of hybrid bonding technology.

Friday, November 15, 2019

LiDAR News: Ouster, Velodyne

BusinessWire: Ouster introduces the OS1-32, said to be the world’s most affordable 32-channel lidar. "Higher resolution sensors at an affordable price are critical for moving computer vision from simple obstacle avoidance to more advanced perception, and for moving projects from R&D to commercial viability," says Ouster CEO and co-founder Angus Pacala. "The OS1-32 gives customers what they ask for the most: higher resolution at an affordable price."

OS1-32 is priced at $8,000 for commercial applications (with volume pricing available) and $6,000 for non-profit university research.

BusinessWire: Velodyne introduces Alpha Prime, the next generation lidar with surround view.

The Alpha Prime’s features include:
  • Superior field-of-view: 360-degree surround view perception and a 40-degree vertical field-of-view.
  • High resolution of 0.2° x 0.1°
  • Long range:
    10% reflective targets >220m typical
    5% reflective targets >150m typical
    Ground plane hits >90m typical
  • Outstanding performance in a wide variety of lighting conditions, including retro reflectors and sunlight mitigation.
  • Exceptional detection of dark or low reflectance objects at long distances, such as tires, dark vehicles, low reflectivity pavement and low visibility pedestrians.
  • Advanced negative obstacle perception, such as potholes and cracks in the road.
  • The highest resolution along with robust reflectivity returns from over 4.8 million points per second, simplifying detection and tracking of vehicles, pedestrians and other obstructions.
  • High resolution and laser calibration enable the sensor to easily localize vehicles — outdoors or indoors — without a GPS, for precise positioning.
  • Improved efficiency for extended vehicle operating time within broad temperature and environmental ranges without the need for active cooling.
  • Advanced sensor-to-sensor interference mitigation.
  • Automotive mass production options from multiple sources for qualified programs.

The Alpha Prime is a significant step forward in enabling the advancement of the autonomous vehicle and robot industries,” said Anand Gopalan, CTO, Velodyne Lidar. “With its breadth of best-in-class features, the Alpha Prime is a marked advancement in sensor performance for real world conditions. Here at Velodyne, we take pride in listening to our customers and delivering innovative and high-performance products. We believe Velodyne’s versatility and agility extend our leadership status in the lidar business to empower autonomous solutions on a global scale.

Trinamix 3D Imaging with Beam Profile Analyzer

TrinamiX publishes a promotional video of its 3D imager:

"trinamiX 3D Imaging is based on patented Beam Profile Analysis technology. Beam profile analysis is an active measuring principle, that means that the object to be measured is illuminated with a light source emitting a regular dot pattern. The reflection of each light spot is captured by a sensor (e.g. a CMOS camera) and its beam profile is then being analyzed. From the specific beam profile, we extract the distance and information about the material of the measured object. This novel approach enables having an extra channel of information for improving decision making, robustness across platforms and reducing computational need over traditional technologies."

IRay Demos its 1.3MP Microbolometric Camera

China-based IRay publishes a short video from its 12um pixel microbolometric thermal sensor:

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 Arxiv.org.

"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: