Smallest pixel-size promises better mobile cameras

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

Omnivision claims to developed an image sensor with a 0.56-micron pixel, less than the wavelength of red light.

Nonetheless the pixel has quantum efficiency, quad phase detection (QPD) and autofocus capabilities. The use of small pixels allows the creation of high-resolution image sensors with minimal die area. This is a useful development for multi-camera mobile devices.

The 0.56-micron pixel design is enabled by the use of a 28nm process dedicated to CMOS image sensors and the use of 22nm logic process node from TSMC. This is used to make a 2 by 4 shared pixel architecture that is within OmniVision’s PureCel stacked pixel family. Care is taken to embed the photodiode deeper into the silicon.

As well as higher resolutions in the same optical format, these technologies should enable the image sensor to have more ISP functions, lower power consumption and faster read out speed.

“We have not compromised high performance with the smaller die size. In fact, we have demonstrated comparable QPD and QE performance to our 0.61-micron pixel in the visible light range,” said Lindsay Grant, senior vice president of process engineering at OmniVision.

The first 0.56-micron pixel die will be implemented in 200-megapixel image sensors for smartphones in 2Q22, with samples targeted for 3Q22 Consumers can expect to see new smartphones that contain the world’s smallest pixel available on the market in early 2023.

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