First Commercial Curved CMOS Sensor from Startup CURVE

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

CURVE-ONE startup (France) announces its first commercial curved sensor (English version starts on p. 2).

"The first public studies in the field of curved sensors are back in the 2000’s. If most of the largest world class sensors companies developed their home-made process, none of them made it a commercial product. The go-to-market strategy applied by the start-up CURVE, supported by the European Commission through the European Research Council programs, made it become an available product. Fruit of years of research and development for astrophysical instrumentation, the commercialization of curved and freeform sensors is now a reality.

The imaging of extended scenes (wide field), has always been a challenge as optical systems naturally curve the focal surface. The bending of photographic plates has been used routinely in many fields, even astronomy with the use of Schmidt telescopes which naturally have a convex focal surface.

The advent of flat electronic sensors has been a revolution, forcing optical designers to introduce additional optics to fit the flatness of these sensors surface. The classical problem of the planisphere appeared then: a huge distortion is created by the imaging system on the edge of the field. Additional complexity came along with the distortion: field flatteners increase the volume and mass of systems, and chromatic aberrations appear. Also, the imaging response is not uniform across the field.

The development of curved sensors is a bio-inspired approach. Mimicking the eye retina, this new technology impacts every future imaging system. By directly correcting the field curvature in the focal plane of imagers, the use of curved sensors suppresses the field flatteners. Less optics means less misalignments and instrumental errors, increases the stability and image homogeneity, and reduces the dependence to environmental condition. Thereby it improves image acquisition quality and then reduces image post-processing costs.

CURVE is now targeting the mass production of its curved sensor, with the support of the European Commission as well as the support of the European Space Agency."

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