The Best of Both Worlds: Sony’s New CMOS Sensors

 The Best of Both Worlds: Sony’s New CMOS Sensors

Sony has recently introduced their latest global shutter CMOS sensors that are capable of producing CCD-like performance.

Historically, CCD sensors have been known to be far superior to CMOS technology, boasting higher dynamic range, higher pixel density, and better color representation than their CMOS counterparts. CMOS imagers, however, are typically much less expensive to manufacture and require less power to operate.

Sony’s latest Pregius global shutter CMOS sensors combine beneficial aspects of both CCD and CMOS in a pixel design resulting in impressive performance.

The Pregius sensors have an analog pixel design similar to a CCD, but with the back end resembling a CMOS sensor. This architecture takes the advantages of a CCD sensor (excellent imaging performance – including good color reproduction, low noise, and high dynamic range) along with all the digital advantages of a CMOS sensor (built-in analog-to-digital conversion, image correction, digital output and high speed) to produce a low-power, low-cost alternative to traditional CCD sensors.

With conventional CMOS sensors, analog signals are gathered column by column and subsequently transmitted for analog-to-digital conversion. Sony’s Exmor technology used in the Pregius CMOS sensors employs a single analog-to-digital converter for every single column allowing the sensor to trigger globally. Conversion takes place right away on the chip, thus reducing the time during the integration process where noise can build up. The result is an image with far less noise when compared to conventional CMOS sensors.

Pregius sensors also use Sony’s fine pixel fabrication technology to produce a small pixel, with a size of 3.45 µm. This pixel size enables high-resolution imaging using a smaller lens than that of some existing products on the market. Sony’s high-sensitivity pixel design and condensing process technologies were used to increase the sensitivity of the newly developed 3.45 µm pixel, exceeding that of the existing 5.86 µm product by 1.1 times.

In addition, the Exmor technology increases sensitivity in the near-infrared (NIR) range which makes the sensors suitable for applications needing to capture light in the 700-900nm range.

Because of the impressive specifications of the Pregius sensor family, Lumenera is committed to building cameras using the high-speed and low-speed variants of the Sony Pregius 2nd generation family of sensors.