Sony senses money

sony exmor sensors 1

Already the world’s leading image sensor maker, Sony is, for the first time in decade, issuing public stock to fund further development in the technology.

Sony calls it’s a “profit generation and investment for growth” phase, and says it “plans to apply the funds raised by this issuance of new shares to expenditures for increasing the production capacity of, and research and development for, stacked CMOS image sensors in the Devices segment in order to further enhance profitability.”

Here is the full announcement.


Aptina mobile sensor captures 25 megapixels

AR2520_ChipsImage quality improvements in mobile devices shows no sign of abating: The latest sensor from Aptina will capture 25-megapixle stills and 4k video from within a mobile phone — a first in the industry, the company says.

The BSI chip “leaps ahead of existing sensors with high-performance video capabilities that capture full resolution and 4K video at 30 frames-per-second,” Aptina says, “as well as delivers super slow motion capture of 120 frames-per-second for 1080p HD video all without sacrificing full field-of-view.” It will also capture stills with “stunning photo clarity” and high dynamic range.

The company quotes an analysts from IHS as noting that the market for image sensors in the mobile device segment was $4.9 billion in 2012, and is forecast to grow to $8.7 billion in 2017.

The Aptina AR2520HS will be available for sampling in the second quarter of 2014.


Samsung: new mobile image sensor technology


samsung isocell

It’s called Isocell — and the new advanced pixel technology for CMOS image sensors from Samsung Electronics “substantially increases light sensitivity and effectively controls the absorption of electrons, resulting in higher color fidelity even in poor lighting conditions,” the company says.

Isocell forms a physical barrier between neighboring pixels, and this pixel isolation “enables more photons to be collected from the micro-lens and absorbed into the correct pixel’s photodiode minimizing undesired electrical crosstalk between pixels and allowing expanded full well capacity,” Samsung claims.

The quality of an image sensor is determined by the amount of light that is accurately captured by the individual pixels within the sensor array, Samsung notes. “With the market pressure to increase camera resolution and image quality, without growing the camera size, the pixels have had to shrink, while improving their performance at the same time – a challenging task. To meet this challenge, previous sensor technology developments focused on improving the light absorption of each pixel, and have progressed pixel technology from FSI (Front Side Illumination) to BSI (Back Side Illumination) which places photodiode at the top to maximize photoelectric efficiency. While being very effective at the time, this BSI technology also faced limitations in improving image quality as pixel sizes continued to decrease.”

Compared to conventional BSI pixels, the Isocell pixels decrease crosstalk by approximately 30 percent, the company reports, yielding higher color fidelity, and increases the full well capacity (FWC) by 30 percent which leads to greater dynamic range. It can also result in thinner camera module thanks to a 20 percent wider chief ray angle.

Samsung is currently sampling an 8-megapixel imager with the new technology. It notes market research firm Techno System’s claim that by next year approximately 66 percent of smartphones will feature image sensors with 8Mp or higher resolution.

More information is here.


Fujifilm and Panasonic Organic CMOS to capture more light



The imaging industry has seen quite a few new photographic technology developments recently, and here comes another: Fujifilm and Panasonic report they’ve jointly developed an organic CMOS image sensor technology that will yield higher dynamic range and sensitivity “for vivid and texture-rich images.”

Using an “organic photoelectric conversion layer” developed by Fujifilm, the sensor will have a higher absorption coefficient when it comes to receiving light than a comparable silicon-based photodiode. Panasonic combined the organic layer with its semiconductor technology for  a sensor 1.2 times more sensitive than conventional ones, and with a promised 88dB dynamic range.

A conventional image sensor combines a silicon photodiode, metal interconnect, color filter, and on-chip micro-lens, the companies say. The photoelectric conversion layer made of organic materials, at 0.5 microns, is one-seventh the thickness of silicon, and can “harvest all the light received on the sensor” to boost sensitivity.


Aptina sensor captures 4K video


aptina sensor read out

That division between what a top-of-the-line SLR can capture and a lower-priced model can’t continues to narrow: Aptina developed a 14-megapixel sensor that captures SLR-quality stills, it says, and 4K-resolution video.

It will capture full resolution stills at up to 80 frames per second, and 4K video at 60fps. Standard 1080p video can come in at 120 fps, “enabling slow-motion video capture without loss of resolution,” Aptina says.

“By merging spectacular image quality with extremely fast frame rates, Aptina is enabling top consumer camera makers to develop the next generation of mirrorless, bridge, high-end compact, and broadcast digital video cameras,” the company claims, adding that the sensor has already “attracted great interest from market-leading mirrorless camera makers. This 1-inch sensor effectively bridges the performance and price gap between the smaller 1/2.3-inch sensors commonly used in compact digital still cameras and the larger APS-C and full-frame sensors that are used in DSLR cameras. The AR1411HS image sensor delivers superior image quality and the ability to capture still shots and video very fast, in virtually any environment.”

The new sensor is now in mass production.

More information is here.