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Samsung Launches ISOCELL Sensor Technology

Samsung Electronics announced its new advanced pixel technology for CMOS image sensors. The ISOCELL technology is claimed to "substantially increase" light sensitivity and to effectively control the absorption of electrons, resulting in higher colour fidelity even in poor light. The company argues that while back-side illumination - introduced a few years ago - did improve the light absorption of each pixel, "BSI technology also faced limitations in improving image quality as pixel sizes continued to decrease." Samsung's patent-pending ISOCELL technology forms a physical barrier between neighboring pixels – isolating the pixel. This isolation enables more photons to be collected from the micro-lens and absorbed into the correct pixel’s photodiode minimising undesired electrical crosstalk between pixels – by as much as 30% compared to BSI sensors - and allowing expanded full well capacity, leading to greater dynamic range. The first Samsung image sensor to adopt this new technology, the S5K4H5YB 8-megapixel imager, is currently sampling to mobile device manufacturers with mass production scheduled for Q4 2013.

Samsung Press Release

Samsung Launches ISOCELL: Innovative Image Sensor Technology for Premium Mobile Devices

Samsung Electronics announced its new advanced pixel technology for CMOS image sensors, ISOCELL. This new technology substantially increases light sensitivity and effectively controls the absorption of electrons, resulting in higher color fidelity even in poor lighting conditions. ISOCELL improves the image quality and enhances the user experience of premium smartphones and tablets that integrate sensors with this exciting new technology.

The quality of an image sensor is determined by the amount of light that is accurately captured by the individual pixels within the sensor array. With the market pressure to increase camera resolution and image quality, without growing the camera size, the pixels have had to shrink, while improving their performance at the same time – a challenging task.

To meet this challenge, previous sensor technology developments focused on improving the light absorption of each pixel, and have progressed pixel technology from FSI (Front Side Illumination) to BSI (Back Side Illumination) which places photodiode at the top to maximize photoelectric efficiency. While being very effective at the time, this BSI technology also faced limitations in improving image quality as pixel sizes continued to decrease.

Building on these past advances and continuing the push toward higher quality image sensors for mobile devices, Samsung has developed ISOCELL the next generation of pixel technology, which is patent pending. ISOCELL technology forms a physical barrier between neighboring pixels – isolating the pixel. This isolation enables more photons to be collected from the micro-lens and absorbed into the correct pixel’s photodiode minimizing undesired electrical crosstalk between pixels and allowing expanded full well capacity (FWC).

Compared to conventional BSI pixels, the ISOCELL pixels decrease the crosstalk by approximately 30 percent which results in higher color fidelity to reproduce the original color with sharpness and richness, and increase the full well capacity (FWC) by 30 percent which leads to greater dynamic range.

Additionally, an imager designed with ISOCELL can feature a 20 percent wider chief ray angle (CRA), reducing the height of the camera module. This makes it suitable for slim and small form factor mobile devices with challenging low z-height requirements.

As the first Samsung image sensor to adopt this new technology, the S5K4H5YB 8Megapixel imager utilizes a 1.12um ISOCELL pixel and has a 1/4inch optical format. The S5K4H5YB is currently sampling to customers with mass production scheduled for Q4 2013.

According to market research firm Techno System Research, in 2014, approximately 66 percent of smartphones will feature image sensors with 8Mp or higher resolution.

*All functionality features, specifications and other product information provided in this document including, but not limited to, the benefits, design, pricing, components, performance, availability, and capabilities of the product are subject to change without notice or obligation.

Published: Friday, September 27, 2013

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