Image sensor works under starlight illumination

February 03, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
Panasonic Corp. (Osaka, Japan) has reported the development of an image sensor that is 10,000 times more sensitive to light than conventional CMOS image sensors.

The sensor achieves this by using avalanche photodiodes (APDs) in each pixel with a 10,000 time multiplication factor. This allows the capture of color images with short exposure times and video at 30 frames per second even at luminance levels of 0.01 lux, equivalent to starlight.

The limitations of conventional sensors in low light conditions is one reason near infrared cameras are used for surveillance and similar applications. However IR cameras have the limitation of not conveying color information.

The sensor, which was reported in the International Solid-State Circuit Conference (ISSCC) achieves a dynamic range of 100dB, about 40dB more than conventional CMOS image sensors, Panasonic said.

In addition, the multiplication of the photoelectrons can be controlled by changing the voltage applied to the APDs thereby the same sensor to take images at a broad range of luminances from sunlit to night time light.

Related links and articles:

News articles:

Infrared array sensor evaluation kit promotes IoT use

TowerJazz Panasonic offers PDK for image sensor process

Quantum-dot image sensor launch threatens silicon

16 analog, MEMS and sensor startups to follow in 2016