Saturday, February 24, 2018

Omnivision Paper on 2nd Generation Stacking Technology

MDPI Special Issue on the 2017 International Image Sensor Workshop publishes Omnivision paper "Second Generation Small Pixel Technology Using Hybrid Bond Stacking" by Vincent C. Venezia, Alan Chih-Wei Hsiung, Wu-Zang Yang, Yuying Zhang, Cheng Zhao, Zhiqiang Lin, and Lindsay A. Grant.

"In this work, OmniVision’s second generation (Gen2) of small-pixel BSI stacking technologies is reviewed. The key features of this technology are hybrid-bond stacking, deeper back-side, deep-trench isolation, new back-side composite metal-oxide grid, and improved gate oxide quality. This Gen2 technology achieves state-of-the-art low-light image-sensor performance for 1.1, 1.0, and 0.9 ┬Ám pixel products. Additional improvements on this technology include less than 100 ppm white-pixel process and a high near-infrared (NIR) QE technology."

Friday, February 23, 2018

Yole on Automotive Sensing

Yole Developpement releases "Sensors for Robotic Vehicles 2018" report:

"As far as we know, each robotic vehicle will be equipped with a suite of sensors encompassing Lidars, radars, cameras, Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs) and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). The technology is ready and the business models associated with autonomous driving (AD) seem to match the average selling prices for those sensors. We therefore expect exponential growth of AD technology within the next 15 years, leading to a total paradigm shift in the transportation ecosystem by 2032. This will have huge consequences for high-end sensor and computing semiconductor players and the associated system-level ecosystems as well.

...in 2022 we expect sensor revenues to reach $1.6B for Lidar, $44M for radar, $0.6B for cameras, $0.9B for IMUs and $0.1B for GNSS. The split between the different sensor modalities may not stay the same for the 15 years to come. Nevertheless the total envelope for sensing hardware should reach $77B in 2032, while, for comparative purposes, computing should be in the range of $52B.
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TowerJazz Update on its CIS Business

SeekingAlpha: TowerJazz Q4 2017 earnings report has an update on the foundry's image sensor business:

"For CMOS image sensor we use the 300 millimeter 65 nanometer capability to develop unique high dynamic range and extremely high sensitivity pixels with very low dark current for the high-end digital SLR and cinematography and broadcasting markets.

In these developments, we've included are fab 2 stitching technology to enable large full frame sensors. In addition, we developed a unique family of global shutter state-of-the-art pixels ranging from 3.6 micron down to 2.5 micron to note the smallest in the world with extremely high-shutter efficiency using the unique dual light pipe technology already developed at TPS Go for high quantum efficiency and high image uniformity.

And lastly within the CIS regime, we've pushed the limits of our x-ray dye size developing a one dye per wafer x-ray stitch sensor to produce a 300 millimeter a 21 cm x 21 cm imager. All of the above technologies have been or are being implemented in our CIS customers next generation products and are ramping or are plan to begin ramping this year with some additional next year.

Our Image sensor end markets including medical, machine vision, digital SLR camera, cinematography and security among others represented about 15% of our corporate revenues or $210 million and provided the highest margins in the company. We are offering the most advanced global shutter pixel for industrial sensor market with a 2.8 micron global shutter pixel on 110 nanometer platform. The smallest global shutter pixel in the world already in manufacturing. Additionally, as mentioned we have a 2.5 micron state of the art global shutter pixel in development at 65 nanometer, 300 platforms with several leading customers allowing high sensor resolution for any given sensor size enabling TowerJazz to further grow its market leadership.

We also offer single photon avalanche diode which is state of the art technology and ultra fact global shutter pixel for automotive radars based on time of flight principle, answering automotive market needs. We have engaged with several customers in the development of their automotive radar and expect to be a major player in this market in the coming future.

During 2017, we announced a partnership with Yuanchen Microelectronics for backside illumination manufacturing in Changchun China that provide us the BSI process segment for CIS 8 inch wafer manufactured by TowerJazz to increase our service to our worldwide customer base in mass production. So I will be ready for this mass production early second half of this year with multiple customers already having started their product designs.

In addition, we developed backside illumination and stack way for technology on 12 inch wafers in the Uozu factory serving as a next generation platform for high end photography and high end security market. We now offer both BSI and column level stack wafer PDKs to our customers.

We are investing today in three main directions. Next generation global shutter technology for industrial sensor market. Backside illumination stack wafers for the high end photography market and special pixel technology for the automotive market.
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An earlier presentation shows the company's CIS business in a graphical format:

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Automotive Videos

ULIS publishes a Youtube demo of its thermal sensors usefulness in ADAS applications. One can see how hot the car tires become on the highway, while keep being cool in city driving:



Sensata prizes Quanergy LiDAR performance:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Denso Vision Sensor for Improved Night Driving Safety

DENSO has developed a new vision sensor that detects pedestrians, cyclists, road signs, driving lanes and other road users at night. Working in conjunction with a millimeter-wave radar sensor, the new vision sensor allows automobiles to automatically activate emergency braking when obstacles are identified, helping reduce accidents and improve overall vehicle safety. It is featured in the 2018 Toyota Alphard and Vellfire, which were released in January this year.

It improves night vision by using a unique lens specifically designed for low-light use, and a solid-state imaging device with higher sensitivity. An improved white-line detection algorithm and road-edge detection algorithm also broaden the operating range of lane-keeping assistance and lane departure alert functions, while a 40% size reduction from previous models reduces costs and makes installation easier.

Recognition of human eyes
Recognition of vision sensor

Chronocam Changes Name to Prophesee, Raises More Money

GlobeNewswire: Chronocam, said to be the inventor of the world’s most advanced neuromorphic vision system, is now Prophesee, a branding and identity transformation that reflects the company's expanded vision for revolutionizing how machines see.

Prophesee SA (formerly Chronocam) receives the initial tranche of its Series B financing round, which will total $19M. Led by a new unnamed strategic investor from the electronics industry, the round also includes staged investments from Prophesee’s existing investors: 360 Capital Partners, Supernova Invest, iBionext, Intel Capital, Renault Group, and Robert Bosch Venture Capital. The latest round builds on the $20m Prophesee has raised over the past three years, and will allow it to accelerate the development and industrialization of the company’s image sensor technology.

The roots of Prophesee’s technology run deep into areas of significant achievements in vision, including the breakthrough research carried out by the Vision Institute (CNRS, UPMC, INSERM) on the human brain and eye during the past 20 years, as well as by CERN, where it was instrumental in the discovery of the invisible Higgs Boson, or “The God Particle” in 2012 after more than 30 years of research. Early incarnations of the Prophesee technology helped in the development of the first industry-grade silicon retina which is currently deployed to restore sight to the blind.

Thanks to its fast vision processing equivalent to up to 100,000 fps, Prophesee’s bio-inspired technology enables machines to capture scene changes not previously possible in machine vision systems for robotics, industrial automation and automotive.

Its HDR of more than 120dB lets systems operate and adapt effectively in a wide range of lighting conditions. It sets a new standard for power efficiency with operating characteristics of less than 10mW, opening new types of applications and use models for mobile, wearable and remote vision-enabled products.

Our event-based approach to vision sensing and processing has resonated well with our customers in the automotive, industrial and IoT sectors, and the technology continues to achieve impressive results in benchmarking and prototyping exercises. This latest round of financing will help us move rapidly from technology development to market deployment,” said Luca Verre, co-founder and CEO of Prophesee. “Having the backing of our original investors, plus a world leader in electronics and consumer devices, further strengthens our strategy and will help Prophesee win the many market opportunities we are seeing.

Prophesee AI-based neuromorphic vision sensor

Inerview with Nobukazu Teranishi

Nikkei publishes an interview with Nobukazu Teranishi, inventor of the pinned PD who recently was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.

"Now... except for Sony, which leads the world in the image sensor sector, Japanese companies have fallen behind, particularly in the semiconductor industry.

Teranishi said that changes are necessary for Japan to continue to compete globally.

He also suggested that engineers and technical experts should be held in higher esteem in Japan.

"Excellent engineers are a significant asset. Companies overseas shouldn't be able to lure them out of Japan just with better salaries. If they are that valuable, their value should to be recognized in Japan as well," he said.

Determining salaries by how long people have been at the company seems like "quite a rigid structure," he said.

He added that engineers get little recognition for the work they do, with individual names rarely mentioned within the company or in the media.

Looking ahead to the future of image sensors, Teranishi feels one peak has been reached, with around 400 million phones produced annually that incorporate his technology. Next, he says, is the era of "images that you don't see."

For facial recognition and gesture input for games, he said, "No one sees the image but the computer is processing information. So there are many cases where a human doesn't see the image.
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CIS Wafer Testing Presentation

Taiwan Jetek Technology publishes a presentation on CIS wafer-level testing.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

IR-Enhancing Surface Structures Compared

IEEE Spectrum: TED publishes UCD and W&WSens Devices invited paper on light-bending microstructures to enhance PD QE and IR sensitivity "A New Paradigm in High-Speed and High-Efficiency Silicon Photodiodes for Communication—Part I: Enhancing Photon–Material Interactions via Low-Dimensional Structures" by Hilal Cansizoglu, Ekaterina Ponizovskaya Devine, Yang Gao, Soroush Ghandiparsi, Toshishige Yamada, Aly F. Elrefaie, Shih-Yuan Wang, and M. Saif Islam.

"[Saif] Islam and his colleagues came up with a silicon structure that makes photodiodes both fast and efficient by being both thin and good at capturing light. The structure is an array of tapered holes in the silicon that have the effect of steering the light into the plane of the silicon. “So basically, we’re bending light 90 degrees,” he says."


The paper compares the proposed approach with other surface structures for IR sensitivity enhancement:

Monday, February 19, 2018

Corephotonics and Sunny Ship Millions of Dual Camera Modules to Oppo, Xiaomi and Others

Optics.org: Corephotonics has partnered with Sunny Optical to bring to market a variety of solutions based on the company’s dual camera technologies. Under this agreement, Sunny has already shipped millions of dual cameras powered by Corephotonics IP to various smartphone OEMs, including Xiaomi, OPPO and others.

The new partnership combines Sunny’s automatic manufacturing capacity, quality control and optical development capabilities with Corephotonics’ innovation in optics, camera mechanics and computational imaging. This strategic license agreement covers various dual camera products, including typical wide + tele cameras, as well as various folded dual camera offerings, allowing an increased zoom factor, optical stabilization and a reduced module height.

The partnership allows Sunny to act as a one-stop-shop dual camera vendor, providing customized dual camera designs in combination with well-optimized software features. The collaboration leverages Sunny's manufacturing lead and strong presence in the Chinese dual-camera market.

Sunny Optical has the powerful optical development capability and automatic lean manufacturing capacity. We have experimented with virtually all dual camera innovations introduced in recent years, and have found Corephotonics dual camera technologies to have the greatest contribution in camera performance and user experience. Just as important is the compliance of their dual camera architecture with high volume production and harsh environmental requirements,” said Cerberus Wu, Senior Marketing Director of Sunny Optical.

We are deeply impressed by Sunny's dual camera manufacturing technologies, clearly setting a new benchmark in the thin camera industry," added Eran Briman, VP of Marketing & Business Development at Corephotonics. “The dual camera modules produced under this collaboration present smartphone manufacturers with the means to distinguish their handsets from those of their rivals through greatly improved imaging capabilities, as well as maximum flexibility and customizability."