Palm Desert, Calif., USA: According to InVisage Technologies, its QuantumFilm image sensors are the first commercial quantum-dot-based image sensors. Replacing silicon, they are anticipated to deliver 4X more performance and 2X higher dynamic range for mobile-phone cameras. The first QuantumFilm-enabled product is due out later this year.
On average, silicon-based image sensors—the technology used today for all digital cameras—capture 25% of light. QuantumFilm captures between 90 and 95%, enabling better pictures in difficult lighting conditions. The technology, based on quantum dots, works by capturing an imprint of a light image, and then employing the silicon beneath it to read out the image and turn it into versatile digital signals.
The quantum-dot-based material is deposited directly on top of the wafer during manufacturing, covering 100% of each pixel. The material is added as a final wafer-level process, which allows for easy integration into standard semiconductor foundries. The process, similar to coating a layer of photoresist onto a standard wafer, adds minimal cost on top of the standard layers of silicon processes.
InVisage spent three years engineering the quantum-dot material to produce highly sensitive image sensors that integrate with standard CMOS manufacturing processes. The first application of QuantumFilm will enable high pixel count and high performance in tiny form factors, thus eschewing silicon's inherent performance/resolution tradeoff.