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 Bell 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:

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Goodix Under-Display Fingerprint Sensor Reverse Engineering

SystemPlus Consulting publishes reverse engineering report on the "Latest cost-optimized optical fingerprint sensor in Huawei P30 Pro smartphone."

"Synaptics launched the first optical fingerprint scanner on the market in 2018, with a lens-free solution. It was quickly followed by Goodix, also with a lens-free solution. This year, Goodix has launched its second generation optical fingerprint scanner, the first such product to use a lens.

The latest Goodix under-display optical fingerprint scanner has been found in Huawei P30 and P30 Pro, Vivo X23 and NEX S and other smartphones.

This scanner uses optical fingerprint technology that allows integration under the display. The new Goodix technology is radically different from those previously observed. Adding lenses reduces the pixel and CMOS image sensor die areas drastically, while keeping the same scanning area. The sensor die area and cost are much reduced.

The sensor has a resolution of 39,000 pixels, with a pixel density of 5,080ppi. The module’s light source is provided by the OLED display. The sensor is connected by wire bonding to the flexible printed circuit and uses a CMOS process.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Samsung Registers Trademark for Its Event Driven Sensors

Letsgodigital noticed Samsung filing for "ISOCELL Motion" trademark in Europe:

"Dynamic Vision Sensor (DVS); vision sensors; motion detecting sensors; object detecting sensors; automotive dynamic Vision Sensor (DVS) for object and motion detection; software for operating dynamic Vision Sensor (DVS);"

Facial Recognition in Military Operations

PRNewswire: Hawkeye Systems releases comments on the U.S. special operations raid that killed the Islamic State militant group's top terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was identified through a combination of A.I. facial recognition technology and DNA analysis.

The US Special Operations Command's (SOCOM) use of A.I. facial recognition technology assisted in reducing several high-risk factors associated with the mission. Military officials and personnel declared the mission a success, which were also backed up by live surveillance feeds used to inform national security advisers of Special Operations efforts.

The military operation comes at a critical point where technology will begin to play a role in differentiating U.S. military capabilities globally. Imaging technology and powerful camera systems are essential to subdue threats and identify possible terrorists. With the increased adoption of AI systems in the military sector, the industry will be even more capable of differentiating between high-risk factors and non-threats.

"We are pleased to see the military leveraging camera technology with the use of facial recognition software," said Corby Marshall, founder and CEO of Hawkeye Systems. "Our recent CRADA agreement with the Department of Defense further exemplifies the necessity of AI-enabled camera systems, which not only improve training efficacy, but will also improve targeting, surveillance and recon for military leaders."

Hawkeye Systems' AXA camera system is equipped with volumetric capture and light field capture, which allows a wider field of view and superior real-time image processing capabilities. The AXA is intended to provide the military with a 360-degree, user-defined and customized, field of view in real-time that is exportable to multiple users or group outputs through various platforms simultaneously.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

SPAD Imagers for X-Ray Detection

IEEE Sensors publishes a presentation "X-Ray Detection Using Single Photon Avalanche Diodes" by Anthony Bulling and Ian Underwood from University of Edinburgh, UK:

Another interesting presentation "Outdoor RGB-D Mapping Using Intel-RealSense" by Gayan Brahmanage and Henry Leung from University of Calgary, Canada demonstrates advantages of stereo depth sensing in sunlight.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Sony to Build New CIS Fab after 12 Years Hiatus

Nikkei, JapanTimes: Sony plans to invest 100b yen ($918M) in its budget for the next fiscal year to build a new image sensor fab. The fab is expected to start operation as soon as in the fiscal year that starts in April 2021. In 2016, Sony bought Toshiba CIS plant in Oita Prefecture. It is the first time in 12 years for the company to build a plant from the ground up. In 2007, it built a fab in Kumamoto Prefecture.

Sony's new plant will be built on a 74,800-sq.-meter site adjacent to an existing fab in Isahaya, Nagasaki Prefecture, in southwestern Japan. The new plant's capacity is not decided yet, but should reach tens of thousands wafers per month, eventually. The company intends to increase its today's 50% market share to 60% by 2025.

Originally the plans were laid in response to the huge mobile phone market but going forward image sensors will be in demand in various areas related to the ‘internet of things.’ They also eventually will be used in applications related to autonomous driving,” CFO Hiroki Totoki told a news briefing.

Harvard University Group Proposes Metalens for Depth Camera

Inspired by jumping spiders 3D vision, researchers at the Harvard University have developed a compact and efficient depth sensor combining a multifunctional, flat metalens with an efficient algorithm to measure depth in a single shot. Their paper "Compact single-shot metalens depth sensors inspired by eyes of jumping spiders" by Qi Guo, Zhujun Shi, Yao-Wei Huang, Emma Alexander, Cheng-Wei Qiu, Federico Capasso, and Todd Zickler has been published in PNAS.

"Nature provides diverse solutions to passive visual depth sensing. Evolution has produced vision systems that are highly specialized and efficient, delivering depth-perception capabilities that often surpass those of existing artificial depth sensors. Here, we learn from the eyes of jumping spiders and demonstrate a metalens depth sensor that shares the compactness and high computational efficiency of its biological counterpart. Our device combines multifunctional metalenses, ultrathin nanophotonic components that control light at a subwavelength scale, and efficient computations to measure depth from image defocus. Compared with previous passive artificial depth sensors, our bioinspired design is lightweight, single-shot, and requires a small amount of computation. The integration of nanophotonics and efficient computation establishes a paradigm for design in computational sensing."

Sony Image Sensor Sales Grow 22% YoY

Sony reports a significant growth of image sensor sales and increases its FY2019 forecast:

  • Despite the negative impact of exchange rates, FY19 Q2 sales increased 22% year-on-year to 310.7 billion yen primarily resulting from an increase in unit sales of image sensors for mobile devices and an improvement in product mix.
  • Operating income increased 28.5 billion yen to 76.4 billion yen due to the impact of the increase in sales, partially offset by an increase in research and development costs and depreciation expense.
  • Both sales and operating income were the highest on record for a quarter in the I&SS segment.
  • We revised upward our FY19 sales forecast 50 billion yen to 1 trillion 40 billion yen and our operating income forecast 55 billion yen to 200 billion yen.
  • At present, we are maintaining a cautious view in our forecast for sales in the second half of the fiscal year, when demand is usually lower than the first half of the fiscal year. However, we plan to continue to operate at full capacity utilization in order to strategically stockpile inventory to meet demand next fiscal year

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Newsight Imaging Launches Combined ToF and Triangulation Sensor

BusinessWire: Israel-based Newsight Imaging announces its first area sensor chip, the NSI1000 for automotive and industrial machine vision applications.

The NSI1000 chip features up to 50,000 fps (on the line resolution). It supports Newsight Imaging’s enhanced Time Of Flight (eTOF) technology with a low-power eye-safe laser. The sensor has a resolution of 1024X32 pixels, a multi-triangulation option and also supports line triangulation with a resolution of up to 2048 pixels.

The samples are samples available by the end of 2019.