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13MP quantum-dot image sensor claims to outdo silicon

Posted: 16 Nov 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:InVisage Technologies? image sensor? CMOS? silicon? quantum-dot?

InVisage Technologies Inc. has recently introduced a 13MP sensor that uses a quantum-dot film rather than silicon to capture images. If quantum-dot based light sensing is superior to that of silicon photodiodes, to the degree that the company claimed, this could usher the end for CMOS image sensors that have built up a sizable market on the strength of camera sales into mobile phones. InVisage said its Quantum13 sensor will push "silicon image sensors into obsolescence."

The company is shooting for the smartphone market to begin with but claims it has the beating of CMOS image sensors in terms of many specifications and therefore in most of if not all applications.

InVisage was founded in 2006 to develop a light-sensitive material to replace silicon. On Nov. 11 in Beijing, the company launched what it says is the world's first electronic image sensor that uses quantum-dot material rather than silicon to capture light.

At a launch event in Beijing the company demonstrated the 'Quantum13' sensor designed into prototype smartphones. Although InVisage declined to name the smartphone firms involved, Jess Lee, company CEO, stated that the Quantum13 is sampling and multiple customers are due to receive commercial volume supply in 4Q15.

Quantum-dot image sensor

Quantum-dot image sensor (Source: Invisage)

The quantum-dot material is a II-VI metal-chalcogenide type broadband light absorber, Lee said. And with the quantum confinement produced by using nanoscale particles of the material bound together in an optically transparent carrier material, it becomes a highly efficient photodiode and allows thinner films than the active depth in conventional silicon photodiodes. Only about 0.5?m depth of QuantumFilm is required compared with 2?m or 3?m depth of silicon photodiode, Lee said.

As a result the Quantum13 embodies a number of advantages over silicon. The 13MP 1.1?m pixel fits in 8.5mm x 8.5mm module. Light absorption takes place eight times faster than in silicon allowing for the use of a global electronic shutter. Using 0.5?m thin films, rather than the high aspect ratio wells used for silicon photodiodes, allows much higher incident angles of light, resulting in 4mm camera height module. And thinner camera module allows for thinner smartphone designs.

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