Thursday, July 07, 2011

CCD vs. CMOS Sensors in Defense Cameras

Adimec blog has a nice post comparing CCD and CMOS sensors in defense applications. The sensor technology is compared on few criteria:
  • NIR sensitivity (700 to 900nm) in order to have good contrast at long range
  • Performance in harsh outdoor conditions
  • Still images of very fast moving objects
  • Long product life time to minimize the costly impact of frequent changes
  • Low power to enable battery operation
  • Small size, and low weight to upgrade legacy systems or allow for wearable solutions
Thanks to GA for sending me the link!


  1. You have to wonder what CMOS sensor they tested. Clearly not BSI and one with unusually high read noise, I guess. I wonder also what CCD, besides EMCCD, has less input-referred read noise at say, 1.3Mpix at 30 fps than an off-the shelf cell phone camera sensor. The QE data is also misleading for state-of-the-art compared to BSI and even some FSI.

    Now that Sony has conceded the advantages of CMOS for security, as referenced by Adimec, I am surprised that Adimec does not show SOA data.

  2. The Qe/RN is a very salient factor of merit.

    USA army has passed an order to Aptina in order to replace all the Gen3 tubes by CMOS BSI 1um pixel CMOS sensor.

  3. Now that is hard to believe. Cite your source.

  4. TowerJazz to Manufacture BSI Sensors for US Army

  5. Cite a source for this statement: "USA army has passed an order to Aptina in order to replace all the Gen3 tubes by CMOS BSI 1um pixel CMOS sensor."

    In particular "all the Gen3 tubes" and "1 um pixel"

  6. Physics doesn't allow replacing ALL gen 3 tubes with CMOS. I can cite several examples but laser range gate and direct view are biggies

  7. 1 µm pixels would require F/1 optics before its advantage was seen. BSI at that resolution would be smeared by diffusion unless the film was too thin to detect very well. (Epi layers might work here if isolated but then dimensions would be below 5 wavelengths and would require waveguide designs. Gen3 operate at wavelengths other than those which Si can respond.

  8. At a guess I would say that the CMOS sensors used could be from CMOSIS. The report says they are global shutter, and that one of the sensors used had a thicker epitaxial layer, this all fits with CMOSIS. Also Adimec produce cameras using CMOSIS sensors.

  9. But at SPIE DSS show, Adimec showed only CCD camera, no CMOS has been seen on their booth!

  10. What we wanted to show in our blog is that there are many things that you need to consider before you select an image sensor.
    There is no best sensor in general - you will have to understand the application first before you make a selection!

    Adimec is focussing on some high end military applications that need a good global shutter and a full well capacity of 10-20 Ke. The CMOS sensor race for cell phone cameras is unfortunately not going to provide sensors for these applications...


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