Sony’s new image sensor could offer better dynamic range and noise reduction

At the IEEE International Electron Devices meeting, Sony announcement its latest breakthrough in smartphone camera technology. Sony has unveiled the world’s first stacked Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor with a dual-layer transistor pixel.

Sony’s Dual CMOS Image Sensor differs from traditional CMOS image sensors in that it has independent photodiodes and pixel transistors on separate substrate layers. A CMOS image sensor has a layered construction that includes a pixel chip with back-illuminated pixels stacked above a logic chip with signal processing circuitry.

Unlike traditional CMOS image sensors, which have photodiodes and pixel transistors on the same substrate layer, Sony’s innovative technology has photodiodes and pixel transistors on separate substrate layers.

Sony’s new CMOS architecture technology optimizes the photodiode and pixel transistor layers by doubling the saturation signal level and expanding the dynamic range of an image. As a result, the imaging properties are significantly improved. The new pixel structure will allow pixels to retain or increase their existing properties both at current and reduced pixel sizes. The new CMOS design allows Sony to increase the size of the amplifier’s transistors. With the increased size, Sony is reducing the amount of noise that night shots and other dark locations might have.

Sony’s new CMOS technology will prevent underexposure and overexposure in mixed lighting situations. Its latest image sensor design promises to enable high-quality, low-noise photos even in low-light conditions.

Sony said its new CMOS technology is aimed at smartphones, but didn’t provide a time frame in which we might expect to receive phones using this new sensor design.

Michael C. Garrison