Panasonic's Image Sensor Brings High Image Quality to Smartphones

Sep 22, 2012
Motoyuki Oishi, Nikkei Monozukuri
The "SmartFSI" image sensor
The "SmartFSI" image sensor
[Click to enlarge image]

Industrial Devices Company of Panasonic Corp developed a 1/3.06-inch 13-Mpixel image sensor for improving the image quality and reducing the thickness of cameras embedded in smartphones and tablet computers.

Panasonic will start volume production of the sensor, "SmartFSI," in December 2012. With the product, it becomes possible to realize a high color reproducibility and a high S/N ratio equivalent to those of digital cameras with the cameras of smartphones and tablet computers, the company said.

The SmartFSI has the following three features. First, with a high sensitivity of 3,230el/lx/sec/μm2, which is at the highest level in the industry, it enables to improve the pixel counts of mobile cameras such as smartphone cameras

Second, by improving the sensitivity of in-pixel amplifier and reducing the noise of transistor, Panasonic realized an S/N ratio that is twice as high as before. Also, it enables to accurately reproduce colors of a subject even in a dark place by employing its own light-concentrating structure and RGB pixel arrangement that has a smaller number of false colors and a high color reproducibility.

Third, Panasonic utilized the light-concentrating structure to increase incident angle as a light-concentrating capability so that the thickness of camera module can be reduced.

The three features were realized by using the following technologies.
- a high-sensitivity photo diode forming technology, which forms wide, deep photo diodes in minute pixels
- a semiconductor microfabrication technology, which reduces parasitic capacitance for improving the sensitivity of in-pixel amplifier and reducing the noise of transistor
- an optimal matching design technology for the lens of camera module and the light-concentrating structure developed by Panasonic