Monday, July 24, 2017

TechInsights Reviews Pixel Isolation Structures

TechInsights keeps publishing parts from Ray Fontaine's presentation at IISW 2017. The third part reviews modern pixel-to-pixel crosstalk reduction measures: Front-DTI and Back-DTI:


Sony dielectric-filled B-DTI structure from the 1.4 µm pixel featuring a 2.9 µm thick substrate extends to a depth of 1.9 µm from the back surface, although it extends to a depth of 2.4 µm deep at B-DTI intersections:


Samsung 1.12 µm pixel generation B-DTI trenches extend 1.3 µm deep into a 2.6 µm deep substrate:


Omnivision 1.0 µm pixel B-DTI extends 0.45 µm deep into the back surface of a 2.5 µm thick substrate:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

DVS Camera for Drones

Zurich University spin-off and event-driven sensor patents licensee Insightness presents its camera for drone navigation and obstacle avoidance:

Sony Unveils Variable-Speed Global Shutter Sensor

Sony publishes a flyer of IMX428LLJ/LQJ monochrome global shutter sensor featuring "variable-speed shutter function (resolution 1 H units)":


Update: There is also a faster version IMX420LLJ/LQJ achieving 200fps at 8b resolution:

Friday, July 21, 2017

Videos from AutoSens Detroit Demo Sessions

AutoSens publishes a number of short videos from its Detroit conference held in May 2017:





Why Use SWIR?

Photonics publishes Sensors Unlimited Doug Malchow presentation on SWIR band advantages:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Forza Compares CIS Foundries and Their Offerings

Forza Silicon's President & Co-Founder, Barmak Mansoorian, compares different image sensor foundries and processes in this video:

Event-based Vision Workshop Materials On-Line

It came to my attention that the International Workshop on Event-based Vision at ICRA'17 has been held on June 2, 2017 in Singapore. The workshop materials are kindly made available on-line, including pdf presentations and videos.

The Workshop organizers have also created a very good Github-hosted list of Event Based Vision Resources.

Chronocam, ETH Zurich, Samsung are among the presenters of event driven cameras:





ETH Zurich and University of Zurich also announces Misha Award for the achievements in Neuromorphic Imaging. The 2017 Award goes to "Event-based Vision for Automomous High Speed Robotics" work by Guillermo Gallego, Elias Muggler, Henry Rebecq, Timo HorstSchafer, and Davide Scaramuzza from University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Thanks to TD and GG for the info!

Isorg and FlexEnable Win Award for Flexible Image Sensor

ALA News: Isorg announces that its first large-sized high-resolution (500 dpi) flexible plastic fingerprint sensor, co-developed with FlexEnable (former Plastic Logic), won the 2017 Best of Sensors Expo - Silver Applications Award.

The high-resolution, ultra-thin, 500 dpi flexible image sensor (sensitive from visible to near infrared) has unique advantages in performance and compactness. Its ability to conform to three-dimensional shapes sets it apart from conventional image sensors. The device provides dual detection: fingerprinting as well as vein matching. Due to its large-area sensing and high-resolution image quality, the device is suited to biometric applications from fingerprint scanners and smartcards to mobile phones, where accuracy and robustness as well as cost-competiveness are key.

Designed on a large area (3” x 3.2”; 7.62 x 8.13cm) plastic substrate, the flexible image sensor is ultra-thin (300 microns), therefore remarkably lightweight, compact and highly resistant to shock. Central to the 500 dpi flexible image sensor is an Organic Photodiode (OPD), a printed structure developed by Isorg that converts light into current – responsible for capturing the fingerprint. Isorg also developed the readout electronics, the forensics quality processing software and the optics to enable seamless integration in products. FlexEnable, the leader in developing and industrializing flexible organic electronics, developed the Organic TFT backplane technology, an alternative to amorphous silicon. This partnership between the two companies began in Q4 2013.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Yole IR Imaging Forum

Yole Developpement 2nd IR Imaging Forum to be held on Sept. 7 in Shenzhen, China, publishes its agenda:

  • Uncooled IR Imaging Market Perspectives
    Eric Mounier, Senior Analyst, Yole Développement
  • State of the art of High End Thermal Image Sensors performances in mass production
    Sebastien Tinnes, Marketing Manager, ULIS
  • The Status and Challenges of Thermal Imaging in Security Applications
    Guo Haixun, Product Director of Thermal Imaging, Hikvision
  • Progress on low cost Thermopile Arrays for high volume applications – eg. office automation, person detection and thermal imaging
    Joerg Schieferdecker, CEO and Co-Founder, Heimann Sensors
  • New ultra-compact infrared cameras with 500 nm spectral response for metal industry
    Torsten Czech, Head of Product Management, Optris
  • Uncooled Infrared Imaging System for Forest Fire Detection and Monitoring
    Wang You, Uncooled Infrared Imaging Senior Expert, JIR Infrared
  • Ion Beam Deposition of VOx films for uncooled bolometer and thermal sensor applications
    David I C Pearson, Ion Beam Senior Technologist, Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology
  • Modern Assembly technology for Packaging of IR Microbolometers
    Alex Voronel, Director of Global Sales, SST Vacuum Reflow Systems
  • Prospect of commercial chalcogenide glasses used for uncooled infrared imaging system
    Rongping Wang, Senior Fellow, The Australian National University
  • MOEMS components with subwavelength structures for hyperspectral imaging
    Steffen Kurth, Department manager, Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems (ENAS)

Image Sensors America Agenda

IS America conference to be held on October 12-13, 2017 in San Francisco has published its agenda:

  • Keynote Presentation: Lifestyle Image Sensor Requirements
    Farhad Abed, Image quality engineer of GoPro
  • Image Sensor Venture and M&A Activity: An Overview of Recent Deals, Trends, And Developments
    Rudy Berger, Managing Partner of Woodside Capital Partners
  • Image Quality Oriented Sensor Characterization
    Zhenhua Lai, Imaging Optics System Engineer of Motorola Mobility
  • A New Frontier in Optical Design: Segmented Optics Combined with Computational Imaging Algorithms
    Dmitry V. Shmunk, CTO of Almalence Inc
  • IR Bolometer Technology
    Patrick Robert, Electronic Design Manager of ULIS
  • Global Shutter vs. Rolling Shutter: Performance And Architecture Trade Off
    Abhay Rai, Director of product marketing of Sony Electronics
  • Enhancing the Spectral Sensitivity of Standard Silicon-based Imaging Detectors
    Zoran Ninkov, Professor in the Center for Imaging Science (CIS) of Rochester Institute of Technology
  • TDI Imaging Using CCD-in-CMOS Technology: An Optimal Solution for Earth Observation, Industrial Inspection and Life Sciences Applications
    Arye Lipman, Strategic Alliances Manager of Imec
  • Semiconductor Sequencing Technology: A Scalable, Low-Cost Approach to Using Integrated CMSOS Sensor Arrays
    Brian Goldstein, Sr. Staff Engineer in Sensor Design Engineering in the Clinical Next-Generation Sequencing Division of Thermo Fisher Scientific
  • Photon-to-Photon CMOS Imager: Optoelectronic 3D Integration
    Gaozhan Cai, Design team leader, focusing on designing custom CMOS image sensors of Caeleste
  • Going Beyond 2x Optical Zoom In Dual Cameras: The Future of Dual Camera Technology
    Gal Shabtay, GM and VP R&D of Corephotonics
  • Image Sensors for the Endoscopy Market: Customer Needs and Innovation Opportunities
    Dave Shafer, Managing Fellow of Intuitive Surgical
  • Will Your Next Sensor Assist in Replacing Your Job?
    Yair Siegel, Director of Strategic Marketing of CEVA
  • Enabling Always –On Machine Vision
    Evgeni Gousev, Senior Director of Qualcomm Technologies Inc.
  • PanomorphEYE Human Sight Sensor For Artificial Intelligence Revolution
    Patrice Roulet, Director of Engineering and Co-Founder of Technology of Immervision
  • High-Speed Imaging: Core Technologies and Devices Achieved
    Takashi Watanabe, Developer of log-type imagers and range image sensors of Brookman Technology, Inc.
  • Tools and Processes Needed to De-risk the Design-In of Image Sensors
    Simon Che’Rose, Head of Engineering of FRAMOS
  • Single Module Solution for Depth Mapping
    TBD
  • Image Sensor Requirements for 3D Cameras
    Rich Hicks, Senior Camera and Imaging Technologist of Intel, Global Supply Management
  • Laser Diode Solutions for 3D Depth Sensing LiDAR Systems
    Tomoko Ohtsuki, Product Line Manager, Lumentum
  • A Comparison Of Depth Sensing Solutions For Image Sensors, LiDAR And Beyond
    Scott Johnson, Director of Technology Business Alignment of ON Semiconductor

ISSCC 2017 Plenary on High-Speed DNA Sequencing

High-Speed DNA Sequencing is an emerging application for image sensor and sister devices (such as ion sensors, pH sensors, etc.). The ion sensor part starts at about 15:00 time in this ISSCC 2017 plenary session video by Jonathan Rothberg, Yale University:

Monday, July 17, 2017

ICFO Graphene Image Sensor Video

Circuit Cellar publishes a nice interview with Stijn Goossens, one of ICFO developers of graphene image sensor announced in May:

Mobile Phone Food Analysis

Open-source Sensors journal publishes a paper "Smartphone-Based Food Diagnostic Technologies: A Review" by Giovanni Rateni, Paolo Dario, and Filippo Cavallo from BioRobotics Institute, Italy. Smartphone with image sensor turns to be quite a versatile platform:

CIS History Diagram

Techbriefs magazine publishes an article "CMOS, The Future of Image Sensor Technology" by Gareth Power, Marketing Manager, Teledyne e2v. The main trends in industrial and scientific sensors are said to be higher speeds and lower prices. There is also a diagram on image sensor companies spin-offs and mergers:


Some parts are not exactly correct here, like Avago has not been spun-off from Micron. Also, Far Eastern companies are not there, like no Toshiba-Sony, nor Siliconfile-Hynix, nor others. But as a first attempt to make such a diagram, it looks really nice.

Thanks to LH for the link!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Optimal Coding Functions for I-ToF Imaging

University of Wisconsin-Madison and Columbia University publish a technical report "What Are Optimal Coding Functions for Time-of-Flight Imaging?" by Mohit Gupta, Andreas Velten, Shree Nayar, and Eric Breitach.

"Almost all current C-ToF systems use sinusoid or square coding functions, resulting in a limited depth resolution. In this paper, we present a mathematical framework for exploring and characterizing the space of C-ToF coding functions in a geometrically intuitive space. Using this framework, we design families of novel coding functions that are based on Hamiltonian cycles on hypercube graphs. Given a fixed total source power and acquisition time, the new Hamiltonian coding scheme can achieve up to an order of magnitude higher resolution as compared to the current state-of-the art methods, especially in low SNR settings."

The "geometrically intuitive hypercube graphs" look like this:

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Caeleste Gets New CEO

Photonics: Caeleste has appointed Geert De Peuter as its new CEO. Geert De Peuter spent much of his career at Alcatel, now Nokia Bell Labs.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Light Co. Starts Shipping its Computational Camera

Light starts shipping the L16 camera to its pre-order customers, after 4 years of development. The company explains what it has accomplished in these 4 years:
  • It took us three years to design and build our own custom ASIC chips, which are needed to control all 16 camera modules at the same time.
  • We also developed our own 70mm and 150mm camera modules, complete with custom optics and electrical components. To put this in perspective, most smartphone cameras contain 30mm or 50mm lenses. The higher focal length lenses we were looking for weren’t even on the market yet, so we had to invent them ourselves.
  • We created proprietary image-fusing algorithms and processing pipelines that align each of the base camera modules.
  • We produced Android software to operate our camera and a Mac/Windows application for depth-of-field editing.
  • We implemented an e-commerce platform and initiated a complex global manufacturing and supply chain.

Light Director of Hardware Engineering, Brian Gilbert,
with the first 'lunch box' prototype
Light final product. Each lens is annotated
with its range of distances, focal length, and aperture

TSMC Wafer Bonding Applications

TSMC patent application US20170186798 "Stacked SPAD image sensor" by Ming-hsien Yang, Ching-chun Wang, Dun-nian Yaung, Feng-chi Hung, Shyh-fann Ting, and Chun-yuan Chen is said to improve SPAD pixel fill factor:


TSMC patent application US20170186796 "Frontside illuminated (FSI) image sensor with a reflector" by Min-feng Kao, Dun-nian Yaung, Jen-cheng Liu, Jeng-shyan Lin, Hsun-ying Huang, and Tzu-hsuan Hsu proposes wafer bonding to add a reflector 102 under the PD 104 to improve FSI pixel QE:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

5T Pixel in SPICE

International Journal of Advanced Research in Computer and Communication Engineering publishes a paper "Optimized Design of Active Pixel Sensor using CMOS 180 nm Technology" by Dipti, Rajesh Mehra, and Deep Sehgal.

Contrary to the whole industry spending a lot of money on expensive device simulators, the authors simulate everything in SPICE:


The proposed timing sequence works well, just does not perform CDS and the small signals do not go through, not to talk about extra sensitivity to FD leakage:

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Column-Parallel ADC Theses

Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, publishes MSc thesis "Column Level Two-Step Multi-Slope Analog to Digital Converter for CMOS Image Sensors" by Can Tunca.

The design is realized for pixel pitch of 6.7µm. Power consumption per column [12 bit] ADC is 88 µW and sampling speeds larger than 50kS/s is supported.

The outline of the operation of the Two-Step Integrating ADC is explained below and an example conversion sequence is illustrated in Figure 3.1.

  • In the first step, K-bit coarse conversion is performed using a ladder shaped ramp. When the decision is made, the ramp value is latched into a memory capacitor. Furthermore, the global counter value latched in the digital coarse memory block.
  • Secondly the residue between the latched ramp value and the input voltage is compared to the fine ramp in the L-bit fine conversion phase. Likewise, when the decision is made global counter value is latched into the digital fine memory block.
  • On the final step, coarse and fine conversion results are superimposed and fed to the output stage.


Milano Politecnico, Italy, publishes MSc thesis "Sigma-Delta Analogue-to-Digital converter for column-parallel CMOS image sensors" by Michele Sannino.

In this master’s thesis project a column-parallel ADC for high data-rate image sensors was designed using TowerJazz 0.18µm process.

The ADC was required to achieve 12 bits of resolution in the competitive conversion time of 1us. Other design specifications include a constraint on the maximum input noise, which had to be less than 100uVrms, and on the average power consumption, to be contained within 330uW. The converter, which was laid out in a column-parallel topology with 15um pitch, was also required to occupy an area smaller than 10,000um2 (hence its length should be smaller than 670um). Meeting this specification makes the ADC suitable to be implemented in a stacked chip in future developments, which would push further the limit of achievableframe-rate.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Future of Mobile Imaging

Engadget publishes an article "The future of the smartphone camera: where next?" There are no big revelations in the list of innovations:
  • Augmented reality
  • Dual-lens cameras
  • Better lenses
  • 4K recording
  • Thermal imaging
  • Optical zoom
  • 360 video
Meanwhile, Strategy Analytics sees mobile imaging future in 3D cameras:

"Sales of 3D Imaging smartphones are poised to take off. Advanced security and Augmented Reality (AR) solutions will be the main drivers. We predict that 3D Imaging will see over 1700% growth during next six years and will become one of the key differentiators in higher-end smartphones."

On the other hand, analysts do not give a significance to other stuff:
  • No interest in Visible Light Communication (VLC, LiFi)
  • No higher resolution push. 41MP in old Nokia phones remains the world's record forever
  • No high speed imaging future. Sony Xperia 960fps camera does not attract analysts attention

HDR Pixel Thesis

Glasgow University, UK, publishes a PhD thesis "High dynamic range image sensor using tone mapping operation" by Waqas Mughal. Here is the HDR pixel principle:

"WDR capture can be performed by introducing a monotonically increasing reference signal Vref. It is possible to capture high intensity information by comparing the integrated voltage at node N to a reference voltage Vref.

The pixel output follows a known reference signal, which is sampled and held at a value when the photo-generated signal on the diode becomes lower than the reference voltage. The potential at which these two signals are equal is recorded and is used as the pixel’s response. In the pixel, M1, M2, M3 and M4 are reset device, reference voltage switch, source follower and row select switch.
"


The Vref sweep function can be used for the tone mapping, once the pixel FPN issues are solved:

Monday, July 10, 2017

SK Hynix 8-inch CIS Foundry Officially Starts as a Separate Business

Korea Herald: SK Hynix foundry (SK Hynix System IC) starts operating as a separate entity, offering a "cost-effective CIS process":

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Mobile Imaging Report from China

China Galaxy International publishes it analysis on mobile imaging industry in China.

"Currently, Sony dominates the smartphone CMOS image sensor market with over a 35% market share in 2016, followed by Samsung with a 19% market share and Omnivision with a 12% market share.

The lens market is dominated by Largan Precision [3008.TT], Sunny Optical [2382.HK] and Genius Electronic Optical [3406.TT]. The total market share of these three companies was 53.3% in 2015. Currently, most smartphone cameras are equipped with 6P lenses. Only Largan Precision can achieve a decent defect-free rate (over 70%) and has enough capacity to meet demand.

The percentage of VCMs used in smartphones increased from 62.4% in 2013 to 76.6% in 2016. The VCM market is dominated by Japanese and Korean companies, which have an aggregate 60%-70% market share. VCM can also be used in many other areas, such as VR/AR, drones and medical equipment.

The five largest single-cameras module providers are Sunny Optical, O-Film Tech [002456.SZ], Hon Hai Precision [2354.TT], Cowelle Holdings [1415.HK] and Samsung Electro-Mechanics, which have a market share of 8.9%, 8.7%. 5%, 4.7% and 4.5%, respectively. The dual-camera module market is dominated by three companies: LG, Sunny Optical and O-Film Tech, which have an approximate aggregate market share of 83%. We believe there is large potential for domestic dual-camera module manufacturers to grow since the dual-camera design is getting more and more popular, and the gross margin is of dual-cameras is about 2% higher than that of single-camera modules.
"

The major trends have been identified:

"From Single- to Dual-Camera: The dual-camera trend is now well-established in the smartphone industry, and dual-cameras can capture sharper images with more details than single-cameras can. Over 19 dual-camera equipped smartphones were released last year and 14 new dual-camera smartphones were introduced in the first four months of this year. The penetration rate of dual-cameras was only 5.6% in 2016, but it is expected to reach 15% this year, according to Sunrise Big Data. Generally, there four types of dual-cameras: a) Bayer + Mono (Huawei P9); b) wide + tele (iPhone 7 Plus); c) symmetrical (Huawei Honor 6 Plus); and d) asymmetrical (Xiaomi Redmi Pro).

At the current stage, 3D cameras on smartphones are used mostly in static conditions (e.g. facial recognition) and do not require a high frame rate, so structured light is the better choice for smartphone manufacturers. The cost of a structured light equipment is approximately US$20. The projector accounts about 50% of the total cost, or about US$10, algorithm chips cost US$4-$6, or 25%-30%, and receivers cost US$5-$6, or 20%-30%. Apple Inc. [AAPL.US] acquired PrimeSense, a 3D sensor company, for US$350m-$360m in 2013. PrimeSense is one of the major structured light players, and it provided research and related support for the development of Microsoft’s Kinect. As a result, we believe there is a strong possibility the new iPhone will use structured light, and Android smartphone companies will closely follow this trend. In Q4 2016, 432m smartphones were sold globally, of which 352m ran Android (81.7%) and 77m ran iOS (17.9%). We believe the increasing application of 3D sensing technology in Android smartphones will further boost the growth of the 3D camera industry.

360 degree fisheye panoramic camera: Huawei cooperated with Insta360 to announce the Honor VR 360-degree camera in February 2017, which allows users to take high-resolution 360-degree videos and photos. The VR camera has two 210-degree fisheye cameras, offering a seamless livestreaming experience. ProTruly [600074.CH], which is a lesser-known brand in China, presented the world’s first VR smartphone at Mobile World Congress 2017.
"

Saturday, July 08, 2017

ST FlightSense Presentation

ST presentation at IoT World in May 2017 unveils a number of its future ToF products:

Friday, July 07, 2017

ifm Demos ToF Backup Camera for Cars

ifm publishes a demo video of O3D ToF camera advantages for cars, based on PMD 64 x 16 pixels sensor:

e2v Sensors for Astronomy

Teledyne e2v publishes two new presentations on image sensors for astronomy applications. "Teledyne e2v sensors for adaptive optics: wavefront sensing on ELTs - high rate, large format, and low noise" by Paul Jorden, D. Bourke, R. Cassidy, M. Fryer, P. Jerram, S. Moore, and J Pratlong:


Another presentation "e2v CMOS (and CCD) sensors (and systems) for astronomy" by Paul Jorden expands on NIR sensitive pixels:

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Cista Develops CIS on SMIC 130nm BSI Platform

GlobeNewsWire: Cista Design is developing its next generation mobile sensors on SMIC 130nm BSI platform. Wilson Du, CEO and President of Cista System Corp. stated, “The low leakage SMIC process uses three aluminum metal layers for reduced cost and supports pixel sizes down to 1.4-micron for implementing our 8MP resolution CIS. We needed a reliable intellectual property vendor of OTP NVM for the SMIC 130nm BIS process node. We chose Kilopass because of its availability on the SMIC process and their reputation as a vendor with a breadth of offerings on the major foundries worldwide."

Possibly, Cista talks about C8390 sensor:

TI and Melexis ToF Sensors with Softkinetic Pixel Inside

Systemplus publishes reverse engineering reports of Melexis MLX75023 and TI OPT8241 ToF imagers, both based on Softkinetic pixel technology.

Melexis targets its sensors to automotive applications and its sensors has been already integrated in BMW in-car gesture recognition system:


TI chip, on the other hand, targets industrial applications: