Sony announces its first stacked CMOS image sensor technology, promises wider dynamic range and lower noise

Sony, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of non-camera sensors Samsung and Omnivision has developed new image sensor technology that promises to revolutionize smartphone imaging. The company is generally at the forefront of smartphone photography and has just announced another promising advancement in the field.

Sony has announced the world’s first stacked CMOS image sensor with “2-Layer Transistor Pixel”, according to the Japanese company. If that sounds too technical. Let’s try to make it a little easier for you to understand what this actually means.

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

This solution, according to Sony, doubles the saturation signal level of a sensor, resulting in a wider dynamic range. According to the company, moving the pixel transistors to a separate substrate also frees up space for larger amplifier transistors. According to the article, larger amplifier transistors result in significantly less noise, which should be beneficial for low-light photography. This technology will allow a sensor’s pixels to maintain or improve their current performance even at smaller pixel sizes, according to the company.

To put it another way, Sony seems to believe that this technology will be essential for higher resolution smartphone cameras with smaller pixels. If the company wants to follow in the footsteps of its competitors and offer 108MP or 200MP cameras, that could be a key enabler.

Sony has confirmed that this technology is intended for smartphones, but did not provide a timetable for when the first sensors with this layout will be available. Still, it’s fascinating to see camera sensor manufacturers continue to innovate in this area.

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Michael C. Garrison