Samsung launches ISOCELL technology for next-gen camera phones

Samsung has announced ISOCELL, its new advanced pixel technology for CMOS image sensors, which will grace next generation smartphones. The S5K4H5YB with an 8 megapixel imager will be the first Samsung image sensor to have the ISOCELL technology. It will have a 1.12um ISOCELL pixel and a 1/4inch optical format. The S5K4H5YB is being sampled at the moment to customers with plans of mass production in the last quarter of 2013.

ISOCELL enables a user to capture 20 percent wider chief ray angle (CRA) and reduces the height of a camera module. This is well suited for devices with slim and small form factor with challenging low z-height requirements for optical processing. Samsung claims, it will drastically improve light sensitivity and will control the absorption of electrons which will result in a more vibrant picture even in low light. The technology also improves image quality and the user experience in high end smartphones and tablets that integrate the technology.

Previous sensor technology improvements addressed this challenge with their focus on improving light absorption of each pixel. They have progressed from FSI (Front Side Illumination) to BSI (Back Side Illumination) which has photodiode on top to optimize photoelectric efficiency.

Even though BSI technology was effective, it faced challenges when it came to improving image quality with decrease in the size of pixels. In comparison to BSI pixels, the ISOCELL pixels decrease electrical crosstalk by almost 30 percent resulting in sharper and higher image quality. The full well capacity (FWC) is also improved by 30 percent leading to a higher dynamic range.

Samsung has improved these past technologies in its strive for higher quality of image sensors for mobile devices with ISOCELL, the next generation of pixel technology. The yet to be patented technology, forms a physical barrier between adjoining pixels to isolate each pixel. The process of isolating each pixel enables more photons to be collected from the micro-lens to be absorbed by the correct pixel’s photodiode, minimizes unwanted electrical crosstalk amongst pixels and allows expanded full well capacity (FWC).

The amount of light that is accurately captured by each pixel in the sensor cluster determines the quality of any image sensor. The market demands improved camera resolution and image quality without increase in camera size so the pixels have had to shrink while giving a better performance.

We won’t be surprised if we see Samsung incorporating an ISOCELL camera in the Galaxy S5 next year.

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