IMEC hyperspectral spin-off raises $16 million

IMEC hyperspectral spin-off raises $16 million

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

This round brings Spectricity to €20 million (about US$24 million) in total funding to date.

CEO Vincent Mouret, said the company would use the money to accelerate its plans to deliver hyperspectral image sensors for smartphones and other mobile and consumer devices.

Spectricity works with conventional CMOS image sensors and its technology can be used to form multi-layered interference filters in the near infrared part of the spectrum. The filters are made from “fab-friendly” oxides and metals – not III-V materials – and provide a high degree of spectrum differentiation. The technology works up to a wavelength of about 1,000 nanometers.

By putting nine to 15 such IR frequency-selective filters on a sensor, pixel-by-pixel and then calibrating the output curves it is possible to “see” additional features of an object at relatively high resolution. Applications include such things as blood oxygenation, hydration of the skin, to whether food is fresh.

Another application is using the hyperspectral filter to determine the nature of scene illumination and use it to drive improved colour balance in photographs taken with the main image sensor. Hyperspectral imaging can also be used to image skin blemishes and spot melanoma.

Next: Fabless sensor provider

Spectricity intends to remain fabless but to go to market with foundry-produced products starting by deliver hyperspectral imagers to smartphone vendors. These would be additional to convention front-facing image sensors but the outputs of the visible and the hyperspectral image sensors would be correlated using sensor fusion software to enable easy-to-use applications, said Mouret.

Spectricity is already working with a foundry and has equipment for filter deposition installed. The foundry provides base wafers populated with CMOS image sensors and then filters are overlaid. “We are fabless but we have signed agreements with CMOS image sensor foundry. We have Spectricity people working in the foundry. We are working with a tier-one mobile phone maker and with smartwatch makers, said Mouret.

The technology has more general applicability in industrial and medical applications but the company is focusing initially on the high-volume smartphone business. “We plan for prototypes in final form by 2Q22 with volume in a mobile in 2023,” said Mouret.

Investors in the Series B included Atlantic Bridge, Capricorn Fusion China Fund, Shanghai Semiconductor Equipment and Material Fund (SSMEF). Series A investors imec.xpand and Xtrion also invested.

“Spectricity’s products are based on unique IMEC technology, and we will continue to maintain a strong link between our R&D and Spectricity’s development to enable a lasting competitive edge for Spectricity’s products,” said Luc Van den hove, CEO of IMEC, in a statement issued by Spectricity.

Related links and articles:

News articles:

IMEC offers multispectral sensor samples

AMS launches multispectral sensor pair

Spectrometer-on-a-chip slim enough for smartphones

Hyperspectral startup raises $7.5 million

Startup gets funded for LWIR sensor fabrication

IMEC hyperspectral image sensor exceeds 140 bands

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