Venture-backed fabless semiconductor company InVisage has just announced an innovation that could usher in a new era for the cameraphone.
Called QuantumFilm, the new technology attempts to use the properties of quantum dots, a type of semiconductor material, in order to produce the first quantum dot-based image sensors, which might end up replacing its silicon counterpart.
The upshot of this is that, according to InVisage, the technology can produce "4x higher performance, 2x higher dynamic range and professional camera features not yet found in mobile image sensors". This is due to the quantum dots' small size, meaning a greater number can be used in a smaller area.
The dots are able to be shaped and sized, which gives a great deal of control during manufacture and will hopefully solve the issue of creating next-generation image sensors for phones.
“It is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to develop next-generation image sensors using silicon; essentially, silicon has hit a wall,” says Jess Lee, InVisage President and C.E.O. Before going on to say:
“The fundamental problem is that silicon cannot capture light efficiently, but until now it has been the only option. The disruptive nature of QuantumFilm builds on silicon's success in electronics, and elevates its function using new materials that are engineered from the ground up for light capture”.
In fact there have been figures that state that silicon-based image sensors capture as little as 25% of light whereas QuantumFilm captures around 90%.
The cost of this doesn't appear to be massive either as the company states that: "The process - akin to coating a layer of photoresist onto a standard wafer - adds minimal cost on top of the standard layers of silicon processes".
It's not certain as to when we can expect this new tech to be a feature in cameraphones and regular cameras, though the middle of 2011 has been mentioned by the company.
For more information you can visit www.invisageinc.com. InVisage will be demonstrating its new technology at DEMO in spring 2010 in Palm Desert, California on 22 and 23 March, as well as in London at Image Sensors Europe 2010 on 24 March.