Archives for March 2016

EMCCD Low Light Surveillance by ON Semi

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EE Journal publishes ON Semi Michael DeLuca Youtube interview on EMCCD low light imaging for surveillance:

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Samsung S5K2L1 ISOCELL vs Sony IMX260 Comparison

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

Phonearena quotes Finnish-language Taskumuro site making an unscientific comparison of Samsung Galaxy S7 equipped with Sony IMX260 and Samsung S5K2L1 dual-pixel AF sensors. One can judge the differences on real-life subjects with HDR mode off (many more pictures on the original site):

Sony sensor, click & download for full resolution
Samsung sensor, click & download for full resolution

More PhoneArena thoughts on the comparison is here.

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MEMS Drive and OPPO Joint PR

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PRWeb: MEMS Drive and OPPO come up with a joint press release on their MEMS-based SmartSensor, the first image sensor-based image stabilizer for smartphones, also said to be the industry’s first sub-pixel-level optical image stabilizer.

While VCM smartphone cameras are limited to shake compensation on just two axes of movement, the new MEMS-based approach compensates for motion on three axes. This additional degree of mobility is said to vastly outperform traditional OIS technologies for smartphones, because it is faster – compensating for vibrations in 15 ms compared to 50 ms for lens-based technologies – and more accurate, and it allows for significantly lower power consumption.

MEMS Drive was founded to develop and advance the field of MEMS OIS technology for smartphone cameras. “The collaboration with OPPO has been very successful. The fact that OPPO is taking such an active role in co-developing this technology with MEMS Drive is accelerating our roadmap, and will ultimately come to benefit smartphone users sooner,” said Colin Kwan, CEO and founder of MEMS Drive.

OPPO recognized that the MEMS Drive OIS actuator could vastly improve the end users’ camera experience. We therefore decided to invest in MEMS Drive and to co-develop the SmartSensor image stabilizer, and bring yet another significant advance in smartphone technology to market,” said King Liu, VP of Product Development at OPPO.

The advantages of MEMS Drive OIS are:
  • 3 Axis stabilization: pitch, yaw and roll
  • Fast (MEMS advantage)
  • Low power consumption
  • High precision
  • Built-in 2 Axis accelerometer
  • Compatible with any existing AF, shutter and Zoom actuators
  • 3D capture
  • Super resolution

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Sharp Imaging Sales Keep Climbing

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I missed this news from about a month ago, when Sharp presented the quarterly results for its fiscal Q3, ended on Dec. 31, 2015. Its imaging products sales rise nicely to all times high:

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NIT Introduces WDR InGaAs Sensor

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New Imaging Technologies introduces the NSC1401, an analog WDR QVGA InGaAs sensor series. The sensor uses a new generation of ROIC with a 320x256 pixels at 25um pitch coupled to an InGaAs retina that operates in WDR mode and global shutter. The spectral response ranges from 900nm to 1700nm. Its AFE provides ultra fast response time down to 200ns for applications such as active imaging. The sensor operates both in linear integration mode and in log response at speeds up to 300fps at full resolution.

One of NIT customers postes a WDR video shot with its older NSC1003 GS sensor:

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Samsung Announces its Own Dual Pixel AF Sensor

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BusinessWire: Samsung announces its 12MP, 1.4um dual pixel sensor for smartphones, already in mass production. The dual pixel is said to enable rapid AF even in low light situations.

With 12 million pixels working as a phase detection auto-focus (PDAF) agent, the new image sensor brings professional auto-focusing performance to a mobile device,” said Ben K. Hur, VP Marketing, System LSI Business at Samsung. “Consumers will be able to capture their daily events and precious moments instantly on a smartphone as the moments unfold, regardless of lighting conditions.

The new image sensor employs two PDs located on the left and right halves of a pixel, while a conventional PDAF-equipped sensor dedicates less than 5% of its pixels, with one photodiode each that converts light particles into measurable photocurrent for phase detection. As each and every pixel of the Dual Pixel image sensor is capable of detecting phase differences of perceived light, significantly faster auto-focus has become possible, especially for moving objects even in poor lighting conditions.

The image sensor has also adopted Samsung’s ISOCELL technology, which isolates the photodiodes in each pixel with a physical wall to further reduce color cross talk, maximizing the image sensor’s performance.

The new image sensor is built with chip-stacking technology: a 65nm sensor on top of 28nm logic chip.

Meanwhile, GSMArena found an unscientific Youtube comparison of speeds of Galaxy S7 dual pixel AF and Canon EOS 70D DSLR dual pixel AF:

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Sony IMX260 in Samsung Galaxy S7: Stacked or Not?

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Chipworks publishes an update on Sony IMX260 dual pixel AF sensor, found in Samsung Galaxy S7:

"Our lab staff have completed the initial cross-sectioning work for our IMX260 project and we have a substantial update to share: the Sony IMX260 is, in fact, a stacked chip CMOS image sensor! As mentioned, we had expected to find through silicon vias (TSVs) consistent with Sony’s Exmor RS technology platform. Our early teardown results revealed what appeared to be a conventional Sony non-stacked back-illuminated (Exmor R) chip. After going deeper inside, we see that Sony is leading the digital imaging sector into an era of hybrid bonding. It’s not currently known if Sony considers this an extension of its Exmor RS platform, or if the IMX260 marks the first of a new (as of now unannounced) family of back-illuminated image sensors. For now we consider the IMX260 to be a 3rd generation Exmor RS chip.

Our cross-section reveals a 5 metal (Cu) CMOS image sensor (CIS) die and a 7 metal (6 Cu + 1 Al) image signal processor (ISP) die. The Cu-Cu vias are 3.0 µm wide and have a 14 µm pitch in the peripheral regions. In the active pixel array they are also 3.0 µm wide, but have a pitch of 6.0 µm. Note that in the images we’ve included we do see connections from the Cu-Cu via pads to both CIS and ISP landing pads.

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Teledyne DALSA on Industry Consolidation

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

DALSA publishes an article "Image Sensor Basics: Changes in the marketplace mean benefits for customers" in Quality Magazine. Few quotes:

"Major industry players—such as ON Semiconductor, CMOSIS, e2v, and Sony — have grown even larger as they’ve acquired smaller challengers, yet they continue to compete to strengthen their hold on existing markets and their competitive position with new customers as the demand for devices that rely on image sensors expands.

For end customers, industry consolidation means the promise of innovation leading to new, higher-quality sensors that deliver greater features and functionality, and are available at a lower cost.

The image sensor industry holds a vast repository of intellectual property and consolidation among former competitors will result in the integration of this intellectual property and the sharing of best practices, which in turn, should facilitate improved image sensor quality. In fact, CMOS image sensor quality has already improved in recent years.

The cost of image sensors and the price of the cameras or other products in which they’re incorporated will continue to decrease as the remaining competitors jockey for expanded market share, and consumers will be the beneficiaries.

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First Photon Imaging

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Boston University Associate Professor Vivek Goyal lecture "First-Photon Imaging and Other Imaging with Few Photons" is published on Vimeo:

"LIDAR systems use single-photon detectors to enable long-range reflectivity and depth imaging. By exploiting an inhomogeneous Poisson process observation model and the typical structure of natural scenes, first-photon imaging demonstrates the possibility of accurate LIDAR with only 1 detected photon per pixel, where half of the detections are due to (uninformative) ambient light. I will explain the simple ideas behind first-photon imaging. Then I will present related subsequent works that enable the use of detector arrays and improve robustness to ambient light."

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ADAS Camera Resolution and Speed Trade-Offs

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EETimes publishes a TI article on ADAS front looking camera resolution and frame rate trade-offs:

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Panasonic Lumix TZ100 ZS100 review – 1in, 10x and 4k in your pocket!

Camera Labs and DSLR Tips latest news and reviews        Go to the original article...

The Lumix TZ100, or ZS100 as it's known in North America, is Panasonic's new top-end travel-zoom camera. After a decade of steadily increasing zoom ranges, the TZ100 / ZS100 breaks the mould by becoming the first in the series to employ a much larger 1in sensor with roughly four times the area of the previous sensor. Impressively Panasonic has still managed to squeeze-in a 10x / 25-250mm zoom range into a body that remains pocketable, along with a viewfinder, touch-screen, Wifi and 4k video. Find out if it's the pocket super-zoom for you in our Panasonic Lumix TZ100 / ZS100 review!

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Brillnics Patent Applications Published

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

Many have been wondering what Junichi Nakamura's startup Brillnics is working on, especially after TSMC pixel group head S.G. Wuu has joined them. Two PCT patent applications might shed some light on it:



While the detailed description is in Japanese, just from the abstract and figures, it appears to be a stacked sensor built on CMOS pixel with CCD-like charge transfer and storage:

"This solid-state imaging device 100 has: a light sensitive unit that includes pixel units 211, which are disposed in a matrix, and charge forwarding units 212 for forwarding, by the column, the signal charge of the pixel units; a plurality of charge accumulation units 220 that accumulate the signal charges forwarded by the plurality of charge forwarding units of the light sensitive unit; a relay unit 240 that relays the forwarding of the signal charges forwarded by the plurality of charge accumulation units to each charge accumulation unit; an output unit 230 that outputs the signal charges of the plurality of charge accumulation units as electric signals; a first substrate 110 at which the light sensitive unit 210 is formed; and a second substrate 120 at which the charge accumulation unit 220 and output unit 230 are formed. The first substrate and second substrate are laminated together, and the relay unit 240 electrically couples the charge forwarding unit of the first substrate to the charge accumulation unit of the second substrate by means of a connection section traversing the substrates outside the light sensitive region of the light sensitive unit."

The most interesting part is a charge transfer between the stacked dies through TSV:

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MWC Corephotonics Demo

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

CNET publishes a video demoing the latest Corephotonics camera modules:

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Samsung Galaxy S7 Dual Pixel AF Sourced from Sony

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Chipworks reverse engineering of Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge smartphone confirms the rumors that its 12MP, 1.4um dual pixel AF sensor is Sony IMX260:

"Our lab staff have removed the imaging chip from the 12 MP camera module and have found a Sony back-illuminated (Exmor R) CMOS image sensor. We were expecting to find TSV arrays around the periphery of the active pixel array, corresponding to Sony’s stacked chip (Exmor RS) technology platform. Sony hasn’t publicly announced the IMX260, but based on what we’ve been reading, we assume that is the part number. It’s a bit of a surprise that the IMX260 isn’t an Exmor RS sensor, as we’ve been documenting a lot of Sony design wins based on its 1st and 2nd generation Exmor RS technology. It seems the full chip PDAF functionality, which requires dual readout from each pixel, was implemented with a multi-chip solution rather than a stacked (CIS + ISP) solution.

The Sony IMX260 die size, as measured from the die seals, is 6.69 mm x 5.55 mm (37.1 mm2). There are no conventional die identification markings in use on the die, consistent with back-illuminated (stacked/non-stacked) Sony CIS chips. We confirmed a pixel pitch of 1.4 µm and a Bayer-patterned color filter array.

X-Ray image

The 5MP front camera is based on 1.34um BSI pixel Samsung S5K4E6XP sensor:

Cnet's Youtube video shows Samsung Galaxy S7 camera presentation at MWC 2016:

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Scanning Microwave Impedance Microscopy

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Chipworks says that scanning microwave impedance microscopy (sMIM), a new scanning probe microscopy (SPM) technique, might replace traditional scanning capacitance microscopy (SCM). Like SCM, the new sMIM technique reveals information on the implanted dopant structures of a semiconductor device.

sMIM Hardware Simplified Schematic Diagram

Chipworks publishes cross-sectional and plan-view images of the pixels of the OmniVision OV2D7AG, which is a 175 kilo-pixel, FSI global shutter, infrared CMOS sensor from the Amazon Fire Phone:

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AR Fundraising News

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

PRNewswire: Deep Optics has raised $4M in a Series A financing round to fund the development of its image sensor-equipped glasses. The round includes strategic investor Essilor, the world leader in ophthalmic optics, Taiwan-based Atomics 14 Ventures and several private investors.

"The human eye has a natural focusing ability that degrades with age. Current multifocal glasses compensate for this degradation, but they cannot offer adaptable correction power management. The dynamic solution we're developing is actually similar to the human focusing mechanism, and so in addition to its superior lens function, should be even easier to get used to with minimal, if any, adjustment required," explained Yariv Haddad, co-founder and CEO of Deep Optics.

Deep Optics is also exploring additional applications for its adaptive electronic lens technology. Two notable applications are AR and VR systems, which are likely to benefit from the addition of adaptive optics to future models. According to Haddad, Deep Optics has already started discussions with companies in this field.

, GlobeNewsWire: Meanwhile, the stealth AR startup Magic Leap raises $793.5M in what might be the largest C round in Internet history. The new funding will give Magic Leap a post-money value of $4.5 billion. (Wired)

"Here at Magic Leap we are creating a new world where digital and physical realities seamlessly blend together to enable amazing new experiences. This investment will accelerate bringing our new Mixed Reality Lightfield™ experience to everyone," said Rony Abovitz, Founder, President, and CEO of Magic Leap, Inc. "We are excited to welcome Alibaba as a strategic partner to help introduce Magic Leap's breakthrough products to the over 400 million people on Alibaba's platforms."

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Sony Introduces SNR1s Performance Index

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

Sony introduces SNR1s [lx] as an index used to quantitatively evaluate picture quality at low illumination. SNR1s [lx] is a proprietary index advocated by Sony, and is limited to CMOS image sensors for security camera applications. A smaller value indicates better picture quality at low illumination. SNR1s [lx] is an acronym consisting of "SNR" (Signal-to-Noise Ratio), "1" (represents that the signal level when noise = 1 is 1), and "s" (for Security).

SNR1s measurement:

Two 3200 [K] light sources illuminate an 18% gray chart from different directions, and dimming is performed to 100 [lx]. A camera is placed so that the distance from the gray chart to the imaging surface of the image sensor is 1 m, the sensitivity [e-] and dark noise [e-] are measured, and SNR1s [lx] is calculated using the relational equation (1). The luminance when equation (1) equals 1 is SNR1s [lx].

SNR1s Values of Sony CMOS Sensors for Security Applications:

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Toshiba Announces ADAS Processor for Monocular Cameras

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PRNewswire, BusinessWire: Toshiba announces the newest addition to its TMPV760 family of image recognition processors for automotive applications. The TMPV7602XBG is suitable for monocular cameras used in ADAS, and will help designers implement ADAS applications utilizing a cost-optimized camera system with a small form factor.

Featuring 13 hardware-based image recognition accelerators, the TMPV7602XBG incorporates ADAS features that will become part of the camera requirements for the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) in 2018. These include Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Traffic Signal Recognition (TSR), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) / Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), High Beam Assistance (HBA), and Forward Collision Warning (FCW). In addition, the processor supports such new applications as Traffic Light Recognition (TLR) and night-time pedestrian detection.

ADAS applications are processed concurrently within a typical time window of 50ms inside the image recognition processor and with relatively low power consumption due to the purpose-built hardware accelerators and media processing units. The TMPV7602XBG can process up to five applications concurrently, with very low power consumption, and targets mid- to high-end ADAS designs. Optimizing the circuit to downsize the ADAS monocular camera module enables the device's reduced package size (17mm x 17mm BGA with 521 pins and 0.65mm ball pitch) and an anticipated 50-percent reduction in power consumption.

Samples of the TMPV7602XBG image recognition processor will begin shipping in March. Mass production is scheduled for January 2018.

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Technavio Names Top 5 CMOS Sensor Makers

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BusinessWire: According to the latest report by Technavio, the CMOS sensors market is highly fragmented due to the presence of a large number of vendors. Sony is the market leader here followed by Samsung Electronics, OmniVision, Canon, and ON Semiconductor.


Sony is the market leader with a 27% market share. “The reason behind Sony's success is its strategy of purchasing many factories in order to boost CMOS sensor production to meet the demand for sensors incorporated in the global smartphone market. Their plan was to welcome any smartphone manufacturer to use its CMOS image sensor,” says Sunil Singh, a lead analyst at Technavio for computing devices.

Samsung Electronics

Samsung Electronics is the second major vendor in this market with a market share of 19%.


Omnivision is the third major vendor in this market with 17% market share. OmniVision is mostly driving benefit from the increasing adoption of smartphones in China and India.


Canon is the fourth major vendor in the CMOS sensors market with a 7% market share. Its strengths are that it always looks for innovation and invests a lot in production to cut costs. Its only weakness is the major competition from its rivals like Nikon, which forces it to invest more in advertisements, and which again indirectly leads to increasing the price of its products.

ON Semiconductor (Aptina)

ON Semiconductor is the fifth major vendor in this market with a market share of 6%. In August 2014, ON Semi acquired Aptina Imaging. In 2012, Aptina had almost an 8% market share in CMOS image sensors, which now belongs to ON Semi.

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Four Accused of Illegal Export of DALSA Technology to China

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article... Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has accused four individuals in connection with the illegal export of controlled goods and technologies to China. The investigation, dubbed Project OSensor, commenced in early 2014 after the RCMP was requested to conduct a criminal investigation by Public Services and Procurement Canada – Controlled Goods Directorate and Global Affairs Canada, as a result of a written complaint having been received by them from Teledyne DALSA Inc. Waterloo. The matter involves controlled goods and technologies being shipped between Canada and China in violation of the Canadian Controlled Goods Program and related Export Laws. Police allege that the four accused involved themselves in Chinese contracts for the design and development of Controlled Goods intended for space satellite use. These contracts involved a state-owned corporation and a Chinese based company founded by two of the accused to create microelectronics destined to enhance space satellite camera technology.

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