Friday, June 18, 2021

Challenges of Curved Sensor Mass Production

Yahoo: Phoblographer publishes an interview with curved image sensor startup SILINA’s CTO Wilfred Jahn. Few quotes:

"For the last few years, curved sensor technology has mainly been developed by labs for research purposes. Various curving processes have been developed for a few years by different players. These curving processes are all “single-chip curving process”, meaning that only one sensor can be curved at a time. These single-chip curving processes create strong limitations, such as a very low volume of production and a very expensive unit price. Thus, a single-chip curving process is not economically viable for consumer applications, which is why you have not seen any compact camera using a curved imaging sensor yet. Up to now, technological developments have only been limited to niche markets (astro-instrumentation, scientific).

SILINA has developed a “multi-chip curving process” to curve thousands of sensors at the same time. This makes the process scalable and economically viable for high volume markets. We have proven our claims with a demonstrator: starting from a wafer of 275 imaging sensors, we have curved all of them at the same time. This is more sensors than have ever been curved during the past 20 years. SILINA plans to automate this manufacturing process, transfer the technology to large sensor manufacturers and reach high volume markets.

Note that SILINA does not manufacture any imaging sensor with foundries. SILINA only develops curving solutions for existing sensors that will be transferred to image sensor manufacturers for the mass market. For high-end markets and custom requests requiring specific technical features, SILINA will curve its clients’ sensors in-house.

Our curving process is independent [of] the sensor characteristics. CMOS, CCD, FSI, BSI, visible or infrared have already been demonstrated. Today, we are discussing with various sensor manufacturers to perform testing on their last generation of sensors."

Yole Developpement's interview with SILINA's CEO Michael Bailly tells more about the company's mass production process:

"...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. Smaller and larger formats can also be curved in the same way. Also, we have manufactured a curved sensor with a freeform shape, which is a very complex shape to optimize even more the performance and compactness of imaging systems we have designed for one of our targeted markets. R&D developments are on-going and new patents are being filed."

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