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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 10:01 AM CDT

Looking at the Expanding Sensor Market

Changes sharpen resolution, decrease noise, increase frame rates
Kodak's CMOS sensors
© Kodak
Kodak's latest generation of CMOS sensors include its high-ISO color filter pattern, or sparse color filter array.
Kodak 's new interline products
© Kodak
Kodak has produced new interline products with smaller pixels and faster frame rates that they are deploying into different sensor sizes, including this CCD, for full-frame, medical and photographic applications.
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By Barry Hochfelder

The big question in the sensor market remains the same: CCD or CMOS? The answer remains the same: It depends upon the application. Cameras and sensors are everywhere, from cell phones to Formula One racing cars, to medical offices and even orbiting the earth.

But that doesn't mean the sensor market is stagnant. Kodak, for example, has new developments in both CCD and CMOS. The Rochester, N.Y. company deployed its high-ISO color filter pattern, or sparse color filter array, on its latest generation of CMOS chips. It also released a PMOS, or hole detector that, contrary to more conventional sensors that detect electrons, actually senses the absence of electrons.

The PMOS actually is a re-engineering of the fundamental design and architecture of traditional CMOS pixels. In a standard pixel, the signal is measured by detecting electrons that are generated when light interacts with the sensor surface. As more light strikes the sensor, more electrons are generated, resulting in a higher signal at each pixel. In the Kodak PMOS the underlying polarity of the silicon is reversed, so the absence of electrons is used to detect a signal.

On the CCD side, Kodak has new interline products with smaller pixel and faster frame rates that they are deploying into different sensor sizes for full-frame, medical and photographic applications.

In another development, aimed at the mobile handset industry, OmniVision (Sunnyvale, Calif.) introduced the OV3642, a ¼-inch, 3mp CMOS sensor with its TrueFocus™ technology embedded on-chip that is well-suited for low-light performance. The camera phone's point-and-shoot capability keeps the entire scene—from 20cm to infinity, including video capture—in focus.

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