Sunday, July 24, 2011

Omnivision Proposes Concave PD to Increase Full Well

Omnivision patent application US20110169991 proposes concave photodiode to increase area where the photogenerated charge can be hold. Also, the new PD shape is said to reduce pixel alignment variability:


  1. it's crazy, how is it possible to grow a high quality EPI island in a so small volume ?

    I'm thinking about NobelPeak SWIT pixel when I write this comment.

  2. NobelPeak indeed. Claim 2 is for SiGe so definitely NIR. Note that the concave surface (as seen from the backside) is supposed have reflection properties.

    Since this published document teaches a method for improving low light NIR response suitable for night vision, I wonder if the US patent inventors have possibly violated US ITAR restrictions and may be subject to arrest and prosecution with fines up to US$1M. I don't think this method works, so maybe it is not so important, but all U.S.-based engineers should review the ITARs which are publicly available.

  3. But ITAR concerns only US/DoD funded activities, isn't it? If this is not funded by US/DoD, a CMOS alone is not concerned by ITAR, am I right?

    Thanks Eric, Yang Ni

  4. No, ITAR does not have anything to do with US government funding. Visible (primarily green wavelength) imaging is not ITAR restricted except for very high speed and some uses related to arms.

    Even if you have an idea on your own time and it is on the restricted list, you cannot disclose technical data to any foreign national (except permanent residents), verbally or in writing, except as allowed under ITAR.

    and links therein.
    particularly 120.17(4) and 121.1 cat XII

    Note that in my experience, all government officials prefer to err on the side of being conservative. It is hard to get in trouble for saying "no" for an export license.

    Anyway, it is a good idea to read these restrictions and penalties (section 127).

    See also:
    esp. under IEEPA

    Noble Peak claims that ITAR restrictions killed their business. Hard to believe for sure, but possible. US citizens and others working in the US must be very careful about ITAR.

  5. I understand now why it is so difficult to discuss some technical guys in US companies .... For me it's a little crazy!

    -yang ni

  6. BTW, if this patent's technical data falls under ITAR restriction, USPTO is also at fault. The US citizens are at fault for technical discussions with the Chinese/Taiwanese, and USPTO for the actual publication. Well, at least that is the way it seems to me.

  7. In France, all the patent applications should be examined by the defence office and the governement has an exemption power in the inventions. But here it seems that the speech is free :)

    -yang ni

  8. @ "I understand now why it is so difficult to discuss some technical guys in US companies .... For me it's a little crazy!"

    In my experience it is difficult to start a technical dialogue with people at any company regardless of the country where it is located.


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