Thursday, April 22, 2021

SILINA - One More Curved Image Sensor Startup

Yole Developpement publishes an interview with  Michael Bailly, CEO of SILINA, a startup developing curved image sensors. Few quotes:

"In nature, most vision systems use curved retinas, like human eyes. Curved retinas offer a wide field of view for an outstanding image quality with only one lens, the crystalline, making the eyes very compact. Unfortunately, all electronic imaging systems use flat imaging sensors. Flat sensors make the lens very complex, using many expensive optical elements. This degrades the optical performance and capabilities of the camera, and increases the mass/volume budget and overall cost of any camera and optical system.

Curved imaging sensors are the next major innovation for the imaging industry, bringing a real paradigm shift in the way we design vision systems. They overcome hardware limitations that no software can solve, and enable a whole new generation of cameras. They bring drastic improvements on four key criteria: increased image quality and detection capability, and reduced cost and bulk of cameras.

First, a pre-processing step makes the sensor flexible and guarantees its good performance. Then, we use specific equipment to curve the sensors, for which we can monitor all the parameters to ensure the process is repeatable and accurate.

In addition, SILINA’s curved sensors can be integrated into the same original packaging as has been developed for traditional flat sensors. This means that the mechanical mount, electronic board and the overall packaging remain the same. It facilitates the integration of the technology into existing production lines. Finally, we curve sensors reliably and at industrial scale for the very first time. We have recently made a demonstrator and curved all the sensors of a single wafer, demonstrating the scalability, repeatability and high yield of our technology.

Finally, we curve sensors reliably and at industrial scale for the very first time. We have recently made a demonstrator and curved all the sensors on a single wafer. A set of 275 curved sensors has been curved at the same time, in less than one hour. This demonstrates the scalability, repeatability and high yield of our technology. These sensors are 1 inch format, like the ones planned to be used in the new generation of smartphone cameras.

The benefits that have been demonstrated in various optical designs include improved image quality and sensitivity. We can offer contrast and sharpness up to 5x better at the image edge for a sharper image with better resolution. We produce a faster lens with higher signal to noise ratio, lower integration time and sharper depth of field. Light transmission is up to 3x better, offering higher performance in low light and again higher signal to noise ratio. Chromatic aberration is reduced by up to 50% for better color rendering and color fidelity. Increased camera field of view improves detection capabilities. Removing vignetting provides better illumination uniformity and better performance in low light.

We also reduce the mass/volume budget. There is up to 50% reduction in the number of optical elements such as lenses and mirrors. The end product is up to 6x lighter and more compact.

Finally we reduce costs. There are fewer and simpler optical elements to manufacture. This releases constraints in optomechanical tolerancing. It makes metrology faster. It also enables faster and easier assembly, integration and alignment."


1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately, most of what is here said is simply not true. There might be in specific applications some advantage over the flat sensors but the improvement will not be revolutionary as one might think. I guess the smartphone market or sports cameras indeed could benefit from it since the marginal rays in small wide-angle lenses are really hitting the sensor in corners at a very steep angle resulting in reduced performance. Yet one needs to realize that today's cameras for consumer electronics are like 80% image processing and 20% real image. So the question is if the consumer really needs to have this small improvement when the image already is artificially corrected for this effect.

    In the military application the curved displays (image intensifiers for night vision) are in use for decades, ask them if that is making a revolution in optics design.

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