MegaChips licenses tunnel sensor for better imaging

MegaChips licenses tunnel sensor for better imaging

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

SeeDevices was founded in 2017 by Hoon Kim and has developed what it describes as a photon-assisted tunneling photo detector (PAT-PD), which can be used to form a photodetector pixel and image sensor arrays.

The company claims its photodetector vastly improves what is possible compared to standard silicon CMOS image sensors, improving quantum efficiency and low-light performance. To judge from patents the device does not make use of specialized light absorbing film but instead uses a floating polysilicon gate in a tunnel junction in a form of optically-gated transistor.

The quantum tunneling allows the same photon-activated current to be triggered with orders of magnitude fewer photons, reducing the light requirement when compared to the traditional p-n junction photodiode structure. But at the same time the technology is based on conventional silicon processing and so image sensors are readily made with integrated peripheral decoders and signal processing.

SeeDevices claims its technology is about 10,000 times more responsive than conventional silicon image sensors in the visible spectrum but also extends to the near-infrared (NIR) where it is 100x more responsive than InGaAs or germanium sensors. Reaction time is also reduced from microseconds to sub-nanoseconds while dynamic range is boosted to 100dB linear and 150dB non-linear.

That responsiveness can be translated into smaller die area hyperspectral sensors with high resolution, high frame-rate and high sensitivity and a wide dynamic range. 

“This licensing agreement is a validation of our technology’s maturity and ability to serve a major partner and supplier like MegaChips. Our PAT-PD sensor not only outperforms existing image sensors, it helps create an entirely new category of photon sensing capability,” said Hooman Dastghaib, CEO of SeeDevice, in a statement.

PA-PD is sensitive to wavelengths from 300nm to 1,600nm with plans to increase this to 2,000nm thus pushing into shortwave infrared (SWIR).

PAT-PD quantum pixel technical specifications. Source: SeeDevice

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