Panasonic today announced the development of a lightfast image sensor for the next generation.
Panasonic claims that its technological breakthrough allows a robust MOS image sensor for use under harsh sunlight for more than 20 years. Unlike traditional image sensors with polymer onchip
microlenses and dyed color filters, the new MOS image
sensor has digital-microlenses and photonic color filters, both
made of inorganic materials that are inherently fade-resistant and
"We can make a significant contribution to our customers by
creating new applications with this new sensor. We can also propose
various market solutions like automobile and outdoor usages by
making the most of its outstanding robustness," said Taku Gobara,
Director of Corporate Application Specific Standard Products
Division, Semiconductor Company, Matsushita Electric Industrial
Conventional MOS image sensors require polymer onchip microlenses
and dyed RGB color filters, which are fragile and susceptible to sunlight exposure and a change in temperature. As a
result, color images captured by a camera used under direct
sunlight, including the ultra-violet (UV) portion, and higher
temperature conditions will fade faster.
Panasinic's semiconductor process technology can realize the
pattering of an array of digital-microlenses made of an inorganic
material in subwavelength dimensions. A digital-microlens can be
formed by patterning digitally the inorganic material in concentric
rings, which works out as a conventional onchip microlens to gather
more light onto the photo diode area. The light path of each
digital-microlens can therefore readily be designed according to
its relative position on the image area. As a result, a uniform
sensitivity can be achieved across the image area in any camera
module in use.
Furthermore, photonic color filters made of inorganic materials
have been implemented for the first time by the photonic crystal
technology, which allows the photonic color filters to select any
colors form UV to infrared spectral regions. The photonic color
filters can also provide a variety of camera modules with
lightfastness that is essential for an increasing number of tough
end uses such as security cameras and automotive cameras.