Samsung Adds Back Side Illumination To New Image Sensors

The past couple of years, a few main buzzwords have dominated the camera space: megapixels and high-definition. But the megapixel race is arguably over, and just about every camera these days supports at least 720p movie recording. So, it's time for what's next. And what is next? Two main things, as far as we're concerned: HDR, and back side illumination.

Apple recently added HDR capabilities to the iPhone in iOS 4.1, and now Samsung is getting ready to make popular the latter. Samsung has a hand in camera technologies, and today they're announcing two 1.4 micron CMOS imagers, the S5K4E5 and S5K2N1, adopting back side illuminated (BSI) pixel technology. If you're unfamiliar with back side illumination, it's a technology that makes sensors more capable of grabbing great pictures even in low light.

Better still, each of these imagers are tailor made for smartphones as well as digital cameras, so this technology could be widely adopted across multiple industries. Samsung’s new BSI imagers show 30 percent enhancement in low light sensitivity over conventional front side illumination imagers of the same pixel size. By optimizing process parameters, Samsung was able to efficiently control crosstalk thereby improving the color, electrical and optical performance significantly.

The S5K4E5, a quarter-inch optical format 1.4 micron 5 megapixel (Mp) CMOS image sensor, is designed to support full resolution real-time video. By providing 30 frames per second (fps) full resolution frame rates it also enables the user to ‘catch the shot’ by capturing the frame as the user hits the shutter button thus reducing shot to shot lag time. The 5Mp imager has a wider chief ray angle that reduces the height of the imager package making it attractive for slim, small form factor smartphones with demanding z-height requirements.

The S5K2N1, a 1/2.33 inch optical format 1.4 micron 14.6Mp imager, offers 30fps capability at full resolution and leverages Samsung’s low-power 90 nanometer logic process technology. Samsung is able to offer a dedicated thermal enhanced plastic lead ceramic carrier (TePLCC) package to more effectively dissipate the heat generated by the high performance device. These imagers also offer the ability to capture full high definition (HD) resolution video images at 60fps.

These imagers are available now for sampling, with mass production expected in the fourth quarter of this year.
Tags:  Samsung, camera, bsi