Novel pixel technique to increase performance of image sensors

CMOS image sensor

Complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor technology is widely used in a number of applications such as digital cameras, video cameras, and smartphones. In recent years, CMOS image sensors have dramatically improved their performance but there is a need for further improvement on sensitivity within modern technologies.

Problem with conventional pixel design

CMOS image sensors typically include plural square-shaped pixels arranged in a matrix. Each pixel includes a light-sensitive area which is sensitive to incident light and an inactive area which is used to read out the amount of light falling on the light sensitive area. To improve the sensitivity, the ratio of light-sensitive area to the total area of the pixel (generally defined as “fill factor”) should be maximised.

Novel pixel design to maximise fill factor

Researchers at the University of Oxford have found a novel pixel design technique that maximises the fill factor whilst obtaining high sensitivity. The researchers removed the constraints of squared-shaped pixels and optimised the fill factor of the entire pixel matrix.
The advantage of this novel pixel design is to get a higher fill factor without increasing the pixel pitch. As a consequence, the pixels are staggered, which also has advantages from a signal processing point-of-view.

Patent protection

A patent has been filed for this technology. Oxford University Innovation is seeking partners to help commercialise the technology. Oxford University Innovation would like to talk to companies interested in developing commercial opportunities.

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