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.

Prophesee Raises $28M

PRNewswire, EETimes: Paris-based event-based vision startup Prophesee SA raises another €25M ($28M) in funding, bringing its total to date to $68M. Led by the European Investment Bank (EIB), this round includes investments from Prophesee’s original investors iBionext, 360 Capital Partners, Robert Bosch Venture Capital and Supernova Invest, as well as undisclosed investors.

Prophesee is now working on its 4th generation sensor, reducing the size by a factor of ten, improving the resolution and increasing the performances to enable computation and data analysis at the edge and reduce energy consumption. Mass production of this 4th generation is expected at the end of 2020.

Prophesee employs more than a hundred people and plans to hire more salespeople to build and maintain relationships with customers. The company has filed 51 patents.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Artilux Demos its ToF Sensor in Sunlight

Artilux demos sunlight performance of its Ge-on-Si ToF sensor (company website):

Thesis on Airy3D Depth Sensing Technology

Canadian startup Airy3D’s DepthIQ depth-sensing platform is said to be a versatile 3D sensing solution that is far more computationally efficient than other approaches, while also being significantly lower in cost. DepthIQ is also “sensor agnostic” meaning it can be customized to any given CMOS sensor specification.

"DepthIQ uses a Transmissive Diffraction Mask (TDM) to encode the phase and direction of light into the pixel intensity, generating a unique dataset of integrated, innately registered, 2D image and depth data. Using minimal computational resources, DepthIQ proprietary IDP algorithms extract the depth data and restores the raw 2D image data, ready for a customer’s 2D image signal processing (ISP) pipeline. Extracted depth data is fed to the DepthIQ image depth processing (IDP) pipeline which outputs a depth map.

Computational processing is fast and efficient using minimal power. The image and depth information are captured simultaneously without any comparative analysis of multiple images or complex sensor fusion algorithms like traditional 3D sensing solutions.

A TDM can be added to almost any image sensor during post-fabrication processing after the microlens process. Only a few microns thick, a TDM can typically be added without changing the camera and lens assembly. This unique and globally patented solution can benefit smartphones, consumer products, IoT, robotics, industrial, automotive, and other autonomous vehicle products.

McGill University MSc Thesis "Depth from Defocus using Angle Sensitive Pixels based on a Transmissive Diffraction Mask" by Neeth Kunnath gives more explanation on the company's technology:

"An object in the scene whose image appears to be in focus is said to lie within the depth of field. Objects outside this volume appear blurred in the image. The shape of this defocus blur depends on the aperture. For a symmetric aperture, defocus blur has the same shape on either side of the focus plane. A consequence of this is that Depth from Defocus (DFD) methods that estimate object depth from defocus blur run into a blur ambiguity problem with symmetric apertures. While some methods use multiple images to resolve this ambiguity, it is a computationally heavy process. Airy3D, a start-up based in Montr´eal, Qu´ebec proposed an image sensor with Angle Sensitive Pixels (ASPs) based on a Transmissive Diffraction Mask (TDM). An ASP is a pixel that can detect light’s intensity as well as its angle of incidence. ASPs have many advantages over regular pixels that respond only to the intensity of incident light. One such advantage lies in resolving the blur ambiguity. This thesis proposes a single image DFD approach which is free from the blur width ambiguity problem. This proposed DFD method using information about the angle of incidence of light provided by ASPs provide unambiguous blur width estimates even for symmetric apertures."

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Quad WRGB Pixels with S-DTI

MDPI publishes Dong-A University, Busan, Korea, paper "High-Sensitivity Pixels with a Quad-WRGB Color Filter and Spatial Deep-Trench Isolation" by Yongnam Kim and Yunkyung Kim.

"The demand for a high-resolution metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor has increased in recent years, and pixel size has shrunk below 1.0 μm to allow accumulation of numerous pixels in a limited area. However, shrinking the pixel size lowers the sensitivity and increases crosstalk because the aspect ratio is worsened by maintaining the height of the pixel. This work introduces a high-sensitivity pixel with a quad-WRGB (White, Red, Green, Blue) color filter array (CFA), spatial deep-trench isolation (S-DTI), and a spatial tungsten grid (S-WG). The optical performance of the suggested pixel was analyzed by performing 3D optical simulations at 1.0, 0.9, and 0.8 μm pixel pitches as small-sized pixels. The quad-WRGB CFA is compared with the quad-Bayer CFA, and the S-DTI and S-WG are compared with the conventional DTI and WG. We confirmed an improvement in the sensitivity of the suggested pixel using the quad-WRGB CFA with S-DTI and S-WG to a maximum of 58.2%, 67.0%, and 66.3% for 1.0, 0.9, and 0.8 μm pixels, respectively."

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Interview with Lynred CSO

Yole Developpement publishes an interview with David Billon-Lanfrey, Chief Strategy Officer of Lynred. Few interesting quotes:

"The infrared market is growing. Our revenue has increased steadily over the past several years. In 2018, we reported €225 million ($259 million) in revenue. At the same time, the global infrared market has become more competitive than ever. The number of infrared technology market players has almost doubled over the past five years.

Lynred was created to respond to a need for an all-inclusive infrared product offering to the global aerospace, defense, industrial and consumer markets.

We can see huge traction in people counting applications where our customers are seeking value in energy savings and security. On the automotive side, cost reductions in thermal vision technology enable current Night Vision market expansion towards midsize premium vehicles. IR is ready to support two key challenges of ADAS in making them more reliable and available in all-light conditions.

Microbolometer technology developed by Chinese manufacturers has now reached the state-of-the-art, as illustrated by their 12µm pitch detector product offerings. Nevertheless, they have yet to demonstrate industrial maturity and production capacity to deliver high volumes.

...the company’s roadmap is directed towards both lowest cost and compactness. That includes the Wafer Level Package technology or Pixel Level Package used in ThermEye, and the 12 µm pixel pitch in Lynred’s ATTO product family, extended this year to a VGA sensor. In addition, Lynred also works on performance improvements, such as publishing record performance in 2019 of a 150 figure of merit, meaning that the thermal sensitivity was below 50mk with a thermal time constant below 3 ms. This result is four times higher than previous achievements and set a new standard in the industry.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Space and Scientific CMOS Image Sensors Workshop

The French Space Agency's Experts Communities (CNES COMET), ESA, Airbus D&S, Thales Alenia Space, SODERN publish the program of workshop "Space & Scientific CMOS Image Sensors" to be held on November 26-27, 2019 at CLS in Toulouse, France:

  1. TUTORIAL: SPAD image sensors: a technology learning to fly
    Matteo Perenzoni, Fondazione Bruno Kessler
  2. A rad-hard, global shutter, true HDR, backside illuminated image sensor
    B. Dierickx, A. Kalgi, D. Van Aken, A. Klekachev, J. Basteleus, P. Stampoglis, Caeleste
    G. Di Nicolantinio, LFoundry A. Pelamatti Airbus D&S
  3. A novel high-performance HD sCMOS Detector for challenging Space Application
    T. Behnke, J. Ligus, H. Michaelis, DLR
    A. Holland, M. Soman, CEI Open University
  4. A 700 μW 120 dB intra-scene dynamic range 320x320 pixel image sensor
    P.F. Ruedi, R. Quaglia, P. Heim, H.-R. Graf, C. Monneron, B. Schaffer, CSEM
  5. Charge Transfer Pixels for Low Noise Imaging
    J. Michelot, M. Guillon, A. Lesire, J. Paille, P. Lienhard, P. Monsinjon, Pyxalis
  6. ST CIS BSI Technology: from mobile phone market to spatial application
    E. Huss, T. Lachaud, Cyrille Gachon, Olivier Gonnard, ST Microelectronics
  7. Wafer Level Thin Film Image Sensor Integration
    Y. Li, D. Cheyns, L. Moreno Hagelsieb, E. Georgitzikis, MJ. Lim, M. Mao, P. Boulenc, J. Lee, PE. Malinowski, D. Sabuncuoglu Tezcan, S. Guerrieri IMEC
  8. Curved Sensors for compact and high-performance imaging systems
    K. Joaquina, E. Hugot, T. Behaghel, S. Lombardo, M. Ferrari, LAM
    W. Jahn, California Institute of Technology, S. Hugot Curve-One
  9. NIRCA MkII Control ASIC for EO IR image sensors
    A.Hasanbegovic, HK. Otnes Berge, J. Ackermann,JM. Sandvik, J. Talebi, S. Azman, AE. Olsen, A. Kohfeldt, D. Meier, P. Øya, JE. Holter, A. Fredriksen, C. Gheorghe, TM. Johansen, G. Mæhlum IDEAS
  10. Small pixel pitch digital Cooled Infrared Detectors in Lynred
    N. Ricard, G. Decaens, V. Badet, J. Roumegoux, J. Osmanian, L. Rubaldo Lynred
  11. Monolithically integrated quantum-dot based Image sensor for low cost high resolution NIR/SWIR applications
    Jiwon Lee, P. Boulenc, E. Georgitzikis, Y. Li, PE. Malinowski, D. Cheyns and S. Guerrieri IMEC
  12. Optimized ASIC Development for Space Large Format NIR/SWIR Detector Array
    P. Gao, A. Keefe, B. Dierickx, Q. Yao, W. Wang, Caeleste
    T. Morlion, B. Van Thielen, R. Valvekens, EASICS
  13. The Teledyne e2v CIS124 large-format, high rate CMOS sensor
    R.G. Otero, J. Pratlong, Teledyne e2v
  14. DARWIN-CU : A demonstration of high speed on-board image processing based upon off-the-shelf CMOS image sensors
    A. Materne, JP. Millerioux, S.Petit, C. Virmontois, C. Thiebault, F. Languille, L. Lebegue, CNES,
    L. Boukris, U. Kirchgaessner, S. Augebault, C. Maquin, A. Boursier, NEXVISION,
    A. Bougrine, Intitek
  15. A 67 Mpixel 60fps 2.5eRMS GS CIS with 2.5um for snapshot observation
    J. Segovia, P. Fereyre, L. Pardo, A. González, R. Dominguez Teledyne e2v
  16. 10b 1MS/s column parallel SAR ADC for high speed CMOS image sensors with offset compensation technique using analog summation method
    Jaekyum Lee, TU Delft , A. J. P. Theuwissen, Harvest Imaging
  17. A Large Scale TDI CMOS Image Sensor Development
    Po-Yen Huang, WY. Lo, YK. Huang, J. Ling, D.C Chang, and MY. Yeh
    National Space Organization, National Applied Research Laboratories, Taiwan,
    National Chip Implementation Center, National Applied Research Laboratories.
  18. Multispectral Time Delay Integration CCD-in-CMOS image sensor for high resolution Earth observation
    S. Mahato, S.Thijs, P. Boulenc, J. Bentell, L. Wu, P. De Moor, IMEC
  19. Digital multispectral TDI CMOS detector for earth observation
    M. Foucher, T Gilbert, A Ghiglione, S Demiguel, A Materne, S Petit, J Michelot, G Chenebaux, L Saint-Martin, P Monsinjon, T Lachaud, E Huss, M Estribeau, P Martin-Gonthier, V Goiffon, O Marcelot, P Magnan
    Thales Alenia Space, CNES, PYXALIS, STMicroelectronics, Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace,
  20. The Teledyne e2v Capella - CIS120 general purpose CMOS sensor for space applications.
    R.G. Otero, J. Pratlong, P. Jerram, Teledyne e2v
  21. Radiation-Tolerant Multispectral Charge Domain TDI CMOS Imagers with Integrated Filters for Earth Observation
    O. Cherry, HJ. Lee, E Atkinson, T. Brown, P. Donegan, W. Toews, V. Arkesteijn, D. Groeneveld, S. Helfferich, T. Schaink, L. Korthout, S. Ahmed, Z. Liu, F. Haider, D. Orbe, C. Morgan and S. Kullar
    Teledyne DALSA
  22. Characterization of hyperspectral CMOS image sensors based on step-wise filters
    C.Virmontois, B. Delauré, K. Tack, S. Petit, P. Panuel, D. Fiore,
    CNES, VITO, IMEC, Sophia Conseil
  23. Hyperspectral CMOS BSI Image sensor
    D. Gautam, Q. Yao, D. van Aken, B. Dierickx, B. Luyssaert, W. Wang, D. Uwaerts, K. Liekens, G. Cai, K. Minoglou, A. Bourdoux, D. Baudoux, V. Moreau, E. Callut, J. Nuttin
    Caeleste CVBA, ESA, Spacebel, AMOS, Deltatec
  24. Results of Microlens Testing on Back-illuminated Image Sensors for Space
    F. Zanella, G. Basset, C. Schneider, A. Luu-Dinh, I. Marozau, S. Fricke, A. Madrigal, D. Van Aken, M. Zahir
    CSEM Center Muttenz, CSEM Headquarters, CAELESTE, ESTEC
  25. Commercial off-the-shelf CMOS image sensors for space applications: radiation testing on SONY and Teledyne-E2V sensors
    V. Lalucaa, ALTEN. C. Virmontois, A. Bardoux, CNES
  26. Pyxel – The detection simulation framework
    PE. Crouzet , D. Lucsanyi, T. Prod’homme, F. Lemmel, H. Smit, ESA
    Benoit Serra, ESO
  27. Scientific CMOS image sensors with high QE for near IR and X-ray imaging
    K. Stefanov, A. Holland, M. Soman, J. Heymes, C. Crews
    Centre for Electronic Imaging, the Open University.

Exynos 990 Imaging Features

Samsung announces 7nm EUV process-based Exynos 990 mobile processor that pushes forward support for high-resolution high-speed multi-camera configurations:

  • Up to 6 cameras
  • Up to 3 cameras simultaneous processing
  • Up to 108MP resolution support
  • Real time 8K 30fps or 4K 120fps video encoding
  • Dual-core neural processing unit

Thursday, October 24, 2019

AMS Investors Presentation

AMS Q3 2019 earnings report updates on the company's imaging business:

SeekingAlpha earnings call transcript gives some more details on AMS behind-OLED activities:

"New optical sensing technologies and applications remain a focus of continued R&D investment. Building on our excellence behind OLED capabilities, we have started development activities for 3D sensing behind-display. As this approach is fully aligned with the market trends to reduce visible components on the front of the device, we expect the technology to create very attractive penetration opportunities in smartphones and mobile devices. While too early to provide a time line for commercial deployment, we expect to solve the related technical challenges within the next 18 months."

SmartSens Announces LED Flicker Suppression Technology for Automotive Applications

PRNewswire: SmartSens announces the release of its proprietary LED Flicker Suppression (LFS) technology. With this technology, SmartSens' CMOS sensors can effectively mitigate the dangers that often accompany LED flicker, making AI-enabled ADAS and Autonomous Vehicles much safer than before.

While various CMOS manufacturers have introduced their own solutions to this issue, SmartSens has opted for a more distinct approach, innovatively using its proprietary QCell technology to effectively mitigate LED flickering. Beyond simply solving the LED flicker issue, this solution has the added benefit of increasing a sensor's sensitivity and dynamic range, making it ideal for dim or fluctuating lighting situations, such as the openings of carports and tunnels.

"LED Flicker Suppression is a feature that all automotive CMOS sensors should possess, but is in fact not so easy to achieve," remarked SmartSens CMO Chris Yiu. "In the future, CMOS sensors that SmartSens produces for the automotive electronics market will all come equipped with LFS technology, upgrading our clients' systems to be much more adaptable – and safer."

Leishen Pursues All LiDAR Approaches

China-based LieiShen Intelligent System aims to become a major LiDAR manufacturer and pursues a board range of approaches:

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

LiDAR News: Velodyne, Sense Photonics

BusinessWire: Hyundai Mobis invests $50M to Velodyne for development of level 3 autonomous vehicle. Hyundai Mobis and Velodyne plan to commercialize their first lidar system for level 3 autonomous driving in 2021 by this partnership. The two companies will mark the start by supplying the system to the Asian market and will gradually expand to automakers in North America and Europe.

Velodyne company presentation is published on Youtube:

PRNewswire: IDTechEx counts 106 LiDAR companies:

"The coverage of IDTechEx's research is global and includes 34 players headquartered in Asia, 19 players headquartered in Europe, 48 players headquartered in North America and five players headquartered in the rest of the world (ROW)."

PRNewswire: While flash LiDARs are supposed to be a simpler and cheaper alternative to the mechanically scanning ones, Sense Photonics products are not exactly cheap: "Individual units are priced at $2,900 plus shipping, with first shipments scheduled to begin during the first quarter of 2020.

The Sense units deliver angular resolution of 0.27 degrees both horizontally and vertically, and can be configured to achieve an outdoor range of up to 40 meters (depending on model). Coupled with a vertical FOV of up to 75 degrees.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

OmniVision Announces Guinness World Record and Miniature Camera Module for Disposable Medical Applications

PRNewswire: OmniVision that its OV6948 is the winner of the Guinness World Record for "The Smallest Image Sensor Commercially Available" with its size of 0.575mm x 0.575mm. Derived from this ultra small imager, the company also announced its OVM6948 CameraCubeChip – a fully packaged, wafer-level camera module measuring 0.65mm x 0.65mm, with a z-height of just 1.158mm:

"At Yole Développement (Yole), we expect disposable endoscope shipments to grow at a 35.9% CAGR over the next five years," asserted Marjorie Villien, technology and market analyst, medical and industrial imaging. "This industry is today driven by the recent recommendation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) related to the cross-contamination issues due to improper cleaning of the endoscopes. In this context, all major endoscope OEMs are developing cost-effective, small-diameter disposable endoscopes with high image quality."

Utilizing a highly effective and economical wafer-level packaging technology, the OVM6948 is making the mass production of disposable medical imaging equipment possible. Additionally, this complete module can be integrated into a catheter or endoscope with a diameter as small as 1.0mm. With this camera's small size and high 200x200, or 40 KPixel resolution, high quality images can be captured from within the body's narrowest blood vessels for neuro, ophthalmic, ENT, cardiac, spinal, urology, gynecology and arthroscopy procedures. Additionally, many space constrained dental, veterinarian and industrial applications can also benefit from the OVM6948's advanced design.

"Previously, procedures in the body's smallest anatomy were performed either blind or using low quality images from fiberscopes, as existing cameras were too big and reusable endoscopes were not cost effective," said Aaron Chiang, marketing director at OmniVision. "The OVM6948 wafer-level camera module offers a compact, high quality solution for disposable guidewires, catheters and endoscopes, which are experiencing growing demand because of their ability to reduce cross-contamination risks, downtime inefficiencies and costs associated with the repairs, preprocedural testing and sterilization of reusable endoscopes. In addition, these compact disposable medical devices can improve patient comfort and shorten recovery time."

The OVM6948 is said to be the only ultra small "chip on tip" camera with backside illumination, which helps to reduce LED heat, along with improved sensitivity. It also allows for the use of superior lens technology over competing front-side illumination cameras in this class. Additionally, this color analog camera with OmniBSI+™ technology enables easy calibration in production and is reflowable with a 4-pin interface for simplified integration, which shortens time to market while reducing costs.

Other key features of this camera module include a wide 120-degree FOV and an extended focus range of 3mm to 30mm. Its image array is capable of capturing 200x200 resolution images and video at up to 30 fps, and its analog output that can transmit over 4 meters with minimal noise. The camera also offers low power consumption of 25 mW, generating less heat for better patient comfort and flexible procedure durations.

The OVM6948 is available now for volume production in the tray format, along with an evaluation kit.

Smart Bullets to Feature SWIR Image Sensors

Princeton Infrared Technologies wins a Phase II SBIR contract with the US Army at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ. The contract will fund the development of a small size, weight, power, and cost SWIR camera for precision guided gun launched munitions based on successful technology demonstrations in Phase I.

Princeton Infrared Technologies, Inc. will develop a small, low power, lightweight, uncooled 640x512 on 8 μm pixel pitch SWIR seeker for the precise engagement of targets during daytime, nighttime, and poor environmental conditions. This camera will enable the user to image and track laser designators and pointers deployed on the battlefield.

The $999,982, 2-year project will develop a gun hardened small InGaAs SWIR camera with the processing capabilities and frame rates to meet the imaging requirements of tracking targets on board of a small high speed gun or mortar launched projectile.

President of Princeton Infrared Technologies, Martin H. Ettenberg, notes, “The advantages of InGaAs SWIR imagers are their ability to image at long range through atmospheric obscurants better than visible cameras without a requirement for cooling. They support very high frame rates for negating the effects of image blur in very fast moving munitions. In prior programs, we have demonstrated that InGaAs SWIR imagers survive gun launched mechanical shock which we will leverage in this development.

From the company's previous SBIR contracts talking about its camera design capabilities:

"We have shown that InGaAs SWIR imagers survive the 20,000g gun shock. We will be manufacturing a small 300 frame per second [camera] needed to meet the imaging needs of the user to track targets while inside small gun launched projectile.

The advantage of SWIR is its ability to image at long range through the atmosphere while being an uncooled technology thus minimizing the SWAP and cost. The removal of the cooling system and the minimum number of components to operate the imager with high speed imaging is necessary to survive launch shock. The imaging system will weight less than 60g with the battery and the lens while using less than 900mW of power.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Imec Presents Thin-Film SWIR Imager with 5um Pixels

Imec presents a thin-film monolithic NIR & SWIR image sensor. The new thin-film process is said to promise an order of magnitude gain in fabrication throughput and cost compared to processing today’s conventional IR imagers, while at the same time enabling multi-megapixel resolution.

Imec's thin-film is based on quantum dots and is deposited directly on top of an electronic readout. They are manufactured in a monolithic process compatible with wafer-based mass production. The pixels embed newly developed high-performance low bandgap quantum dot materials that match or even surpass the performance of inorganic light absorbers. The stacks have been carefully engineered and can be tuned to target a spectrum from visible light all the way up to 2µm wavelength. Test photodiodes on silicon substrate achieve an external quantum efficiency above 60% at 940nm wavelength, exceeding the state-of-the-art, and above 20% at 1450nm, allowing for uncooled operation with dark current comparable to commercial InGaAs photodetectors. The prototype imager has resolution of 758x512 pixels and 5um pixel pitch.

We are excited to present this outstanding thin-film imager, a collaborative result of several teams with expertise ranging from chemistry, device engineering, readout design through integration and fab manufacturing. This result opens up many new applications for thin-film imagers,” commented Pawel Malinowski, imec’s thin-film imagers program manager. “Our imagers could be integrated in next generation world-facing smartphone cameras coupled with eye-safe light sources, enabling compact sensing modules for augmented reality. In inspection, they could be used for food or plastics sorting, and in surveillance for low-light cameras with better contrast. Additionally, by enabling feature distinction in bad weather or smoke conditions, one can envision firefighting applications and, in the future, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).

Here is the SWIR test chip processed at die level:

Looking further, imec aims to develop a wafer-level NIR and SWIR image sensor technology and develop technologies for companies with a roadmap in innovative image sensors, cameras and smart imaging applications. The current SWIR photodetector is the result of several collaborations, including the Flemish VLAIO-SBO project MIRIS (IWT/150029) with academic partners Ghent University and University of Hasselt, and Flanders based companies active in imaging technology.

Below are Imec SWIR sensors processed at wafer scale:

Imec Magazine gives more details on the thin-film structure:

ON Semi Shipped 100M 1.2MP Sensors for ADAS

BusinessWire: ON Semiconductor has passed the landmark number of 100M AR0132AT image sensors shipped for driver assistance applications in 7 years since its first announcement. Among other customers, the AR0132AT is used in the stereo camera in Subaru EyeSight system to support safety functionality, including adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and sway warning, pre-collision braking and pre-collision throttle management.