This ultra-small pixel technology has been developed to address the increasing demand for high-resolution and small pixel pitch image sensors for multi-camera mobile devices.
With a pixel size now smaller than the wavelength of red light, the company’s R&D team has validated that pixel shrink is no longer limited by the wavelength of light. The 0.56µm pixel design is enabled by a CMOS image sensor (CIS)-dedicated 28nm process node and 22nm logic process node at TSMC, with a new pixel transistor layout and 2x4 shared pixel architecture.
The pixel is based on Omnivision’s PureCel Plus-S stacking technology, and deep photodiode technology has been applied to carefully embed the photodiode deeper into the silicon. These advanced technologies have made it possible to develop the smallest pixel, allowing for higher resolutions in the same optical format, and further enabling the image sensor to have more ISP functions, lower power consumption and faster read out speed.
“It takes great R&D innovation to advance pixel technology, especially at this level where we are going beyond the wavelength of light,” said Lindsay Grant, Senior Vice President of Process Engineering at Omnivision. “We have not compromised high performance with the smaller die size. In fact, we have demonstrated comparable QPD and QE performance to our 0.61µm pixel in the visible light range.”
Grant added, “We invest heavily in R&D and almost 50 percent of our employees comprise R&D engineers. As a global fabless semiconductor provider, we also work closely with our foundry partners, such as TSMC, to develop new process technology approaches that enable industry-leading innovation like this.”
“We are pleased with the results of our deep collaboration with Omnivision in delivering the world’s smallest 0.56-µm pixel using our industry-leading CIS technology,” said Sajiv Dalal, Executive Vice President of Business Management, TSMC North America. “TSMC strives to advance semiconductor manufacturing technologies and services to enable the most advanced, state-of-the-art CIS designs.”
The first 0.56µm pixel die will be implemented in 200MP image sensors for smartphones in Q2 2022, with samples targeted for Q3. Consumers can expect to see new smartphones that contain the world’s smallest pixel available on the market in early 2023.