Advanced Imaging


Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 09:49 AM CDT

March Industry News


Kodak Introduces New High-Res CMOS Sensor

Eastman Kodak Company (Rochester, N.Y.) is enabling a new level of performance in consumer imaging devices by redesigning the basic building blocks used to collect light and incorporating that technology into a brand new sensor.

The company has combined its recently announced Color Filter Pattern technology with a new CMOS pixel to create the KODAK KAC-05020 image sensor, the world's first 1.4-micron, 5-megapixel device. Designed for mass-consumer camera applications such as mobile phones, Kodak's new sensor enables a new level of resolution in small optical formats, using significantly smaller pixels. But unlike other small-pixel sensors that can produce poor images, especially under low-light conditions, the 1.4-micron pixel used in the KAC-05020 changes this convention, providing image quality that can equal or surpass what is available from current devices using larger, 1.75-micron pixel CMOS designs.

"Camera phones and other small-pixel consumer-imaging devices often suffer from poor performance, especially under low-light conditions. To manufacture sensors that utilize these very small pixels—only two to three times the wavelength of visible light—we needed to challenge everything we knew about pixel and sensor design," said Chris McNiffe, General Manager of Kodak's Image Sensor Solutions business. "By completely rethinking the design of the CMOS pixel and leveraging our work with high sensitivity color filter patterns and algorithms, Kodak was able to develop this remarkable new sensor that will enable a level of imaging performance previously unavailable from CMOS devices."

Key to the performance of this new sensor is the Kodak Truesense CMOS Pixel, a re-engineering of the fundamental design and architecture of traditional CMOS pixels. In a standard CMOS pixel, signal is measured by detecting electrons that are generated when light interacts with surface of the sensor. As more light strikes the sensor, more electrons are generated, resulting in a higher signal at each pixel. In the Truesense CMOS pixel, however, the underlying "polarity" of the silicon is reversed, so that the absence of electrons is used to detect a signal. This change enabled a series of improvements to the design and structure of the pixel that ultimately results in CMOS imaging performance that rivals that available from CCD image sensors.

Light sensitivity in the new sensor is enhanced through the use of the recently announced Kodak Truesense Color Filter Pattern, which adds panchromatic, or "clear," pixels to the red, green and blue pixels already on the sensor. Since these pixels are sensitive to all wavelengths of visible light, they collect a significantly higher proportion of the light striking the sensor. This provides a 2x to 4x increase in sensitivity to light (from one to two photographic stops) compared to current sensor designs, improving performance in low light and reducing motion blur in action shots.

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