Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Sony announces new 5MP SWIR sensor IMX992

Product page: https://www.sony-semicon.com/en/products/is/industry/swir/imx992-993.html

Press release: https://www.sony-semicon.com/en/news/2023/2023112901.html

Sony Semiconductor Solutions to Release SWIR Image Sensor for Industrial Applications with Industry-Leading 5.32 Effective Megapixels Expanding the lineup for delivering high-resolution and low-light performance 


Atsugi, Japan — Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation (SSS) today announced the upcoming release of the IMX992 short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) image sensor for industrial equipment, with the industry’s highest pixel count, at 5.32 effective megapixels.

The new sensor uses SSS’s proprietary Cu-Cu connection to achieve the industry’s smallest pixel size of 3.45 μm among SWIR image sensors. It also features an optimized pixel structure for efficiently capturing light, enabling high-definition imaging across a broad spectrum ranging from the visible to invisible short-wavelength infrared regions (wavelength: 0.4 to 1.7 μm). Furthermore, new shooting modes deliver high-quality images with significantly reduced noise in dark environments compared to conventional products.

In addition to this product, SSS will also release the IMX993 with a pixel size of 3.45 μm and an effective pixel count of 3.21 megapixels to further expand its SWIR image sensor lineup. These new SWIR image sensors with high pixel counts and high sensitivity will help contribute to the evolution of various industrial equipment.

In the industrial equipment domain in recent years, there has been increasing demand for improving productivity and preventing defective products from leaving the plant. In this context, the capacity to sense not only visible light but also light in the invisible band is in demand. SSS’s SWIR image sensors, which are capable of seamless wide spectrum imaging in the visible to invisible short-wavelength infrared range using a single camera, are already being used in various processes such as semiconductor wafer bonding and defect inspection, as well as ingredient and contaminant inspections in food production.

The new sensors enable imaging with higher resolution using pixel miniaturization, while enhancing imaging performance in low-light environments to provide higher quality imaging in inspection and monitoring applications conducted in darker conditions. By making the most of the characteristics of short-wavelength infrared light, whose light reflection and absorption properties are different from those of visible light, these products help to further expand applications in such areas as inspection, recognition and measurement, thereby contributing to improved industrial productivity.

Main Features
* High pixel count made possible by the industry’s smallest pixels at 3.45 μm, delivering high-resolution imaging

A Cu-Cu connection is used between the indium-gallium arsenide (InGaAs) layer that forms the photodiode of the light receiving unit and the silicon (Si) layer that forms the readout circuit. This design allows for a smaller pixel pitch, resulting in the industry’s smallest pixel size of 3.45 μm. This, in turn, helps achieve a compact form factor that still delivers the industry’s highest pixel count of approximately 5.32 effective megapixels on the IMX992, and approximately 3.21 effective megapixels on the IMX993. The higher pixel count enables detection of tiny objects or imaging across a wide range, contributing to significantly improved recognition and measurement precision in various inspections using short-wavelength infrared light.


 Comparison of SWIR images with different resolutions: Lighting wavelength 1550 nm
(Left: Other SSS product, 1.34 effective megapixels; Right: IMX992)

* Low-noise imaging even in dark locations possible by switching the shooting mode

Inclusion of new shooting modes enables low-noise imaging without being affected by environmental brightness. In dark environments with limited light, High Conversion Gain (HCG) mode directly amplifies the signal with minimal noise after being converted to an electrical signal from light, thereby relatively reducing the amount of noise downstream. Doing so minimizes the impact of noise in dark locations, leading to greater recognition precision. On the other hand, in bright environments with plenty of light, Low Conversion Gain (LCG) mode enables imaging prioritizing the dynamic range.
Furthermore, enabling Dual Read Rolling Shutter (DRRS) outputs images from the sensor in two distinct types. These images are then composited on the camera to acquire an image with significantly reduced noise.

Image quality and noise comparison in dark location: Lighting wavelength 1450 nm
(Left: Other SSS product, 1.34 effective megapixels; Center: IMX992, HCG mode selected; Right: IMX992, HCG mode selected, DRRS enabled)

 

* Optimized pixel structure for high-sensitivity imaging across a wide range

SSS’s SWIR image sensors employ a thinner indium-phosphorous (InP) layer on top, which would otherwise inevitably absorb visible light, thereby allowing visible light to reach the indium-gallium arsenide (InGaAs) layer underneath, delivering high quantum efficiency even in the visible wavelength. The new products deliver even higher quantum efficiency by optimizing the pixel structure, enabling more uniform sensitivity characteristics across a wide wavelength band from 0.4 to 1.7 μm. Minimizing the image quality differences between wavelengths makes it possible to use the image sensor in a variety of industrial applications and contributes to improved reliability in inspection, recognition, and measurement applications.

 

Product Overview



 

18 comments:

  1. This should be considered as a huge transition in hybrid image sensors.

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  2. Too expensive! Thin film may be the future.

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    1. Thin film is not easy. Since Invisage a lot of money has been invested but still no products.

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    2. still this is cheaper than alternatives.

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    3. Still worth it. Prices for the predecessors IMX990/991 are also quite steep, but customers are happy with what they get. And as long as there is no real competition Sony can and should take as much money as the customers are willing to pay.

      JH

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  3. many formerly unthinkable devices will become reality with die to wafer hybrid bonding as the tools progress below 100nm bonding accuracy. a few years from now we will see few 100nm contact pitch with tools that bond at few 10nm accuracy

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    1. exactly and especially for image sensors where there is an intrinsic tolerance to bad connections.

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    2. there is quite an interesting article/paper about die to wafer hybrid bonding, the process steps involved etc. in the current issue of Chip Scale review from page 8 onwards: https://chipscalereview.com/wp-content/uploads/flipbook/36/book.html

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  4. Is there anyone from this community who can explain to me what the spec about sensitivity means : 121 mV @ F8, 1/30 sec accumulation ? The device has a digital output, so how can someone measure the signal in the voltage domain ? Nothing is mentioned about the spectrum of the input signal, ...

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    1. Albert, it should be retraced to photodiode stage.

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    2. In that case they can publish whatever they want, because nobody can measure/verify it. What is the spectrum of the light source ? Why is there an F number mentioned ?
      I asked this to a Sony engineer (with a lot of years of experience), and he could not give me an answer ...

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    3. Interpreting quoted sensor specifications in many cases can be nearly impossible!

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    4. The new SWIR sensors from Sony are the first (AFAIK) that have a somehow replicable Standard Imaging Condition I: 1550 nm light source with a FWHM of 50 nm, 12 mW/m² at sensor surface. Even going back to the first CCD sensors every other sensor datasheet uses what I call Sonys mystery box: 706 cd/m² on a test chart (distance? reflectance?), color temperature 3200 K, "testing standard lens" (which one? transmisson?) with an absorptive IR-Cut filter (discontinued). The F#8 condition is to my understanding to prevent influences from micro lens shading / angular response shenanigangs.
      Even knowing all that doesn't help much though as long as there are no accompanying noise figures. The key takeaway is just this: at 33.3 ms integration time you get about a third of the saturation signal. With just that comparability to other sensors is simply not possible.

      JH

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  5. Sorry, the previous comment about the spec was mine, I forgot to mention my name.

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  6. Interesting to see the resolution scale from Sony. Curiously close to the Acuros CQD SWIR sensor resolution. I wonder how it compares, considering smaller pixel size.

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  7. multiple industrial camera manufacturers announced cameras with imx992 already, other companies have integrated it on sensor level in end products already. apart from the sensor itself its the integrateability that is a key difference here.

    https://www.alliedvision.com/en/high-resolution-short-wave-infrared-cameras/

    https://www.svs-vistek.com/de/industriekameras/svs-kameraserien-detail.php?g=swir-388

    https://www.emergentvisiontec.com/de/products/he-camera-series/he-5300-s-i/

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    1. The main advantages of thrse srnsors are Sony standatd digital interface. Camera makers already working with Sony can make their products very quickly. Besides this small pitch and high resolutions are deadly attractive for many applications. What will the impacts on small sensor makers?

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