Sarnoff Debuts Ultra-Sense Back-Thinning for Image Sensor Fabrication

Sarnoff Corporation introduced Ultra-Sense[tm], a complete wafer processing solution that reduces the manufacturing costs of high-performance back-illuminated image sensors. Ultra-Sense is an innovative solution that combines patented Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) wafer technology with low-cost, scalable fabrication techniques to provide manufacturable back-illuminated image sensors. Sensor designers and manufacturers can use this novel approach to achieve higher resolution, smaller pixel size, higher quantum efficiency (QE) and maximized system performance without incurring additional costs.

Ultra-Sense is available from Sarnoff through licensing and manufacturing partnerships, as well as services, including:

  • Sensor design consulting
  • Wafer sourcing and customization
  • Back-end processing

“SOI wafer technology has been proven to be a scalable, cost-effective solution in high performance CMOS applications,” said Joanne Itow of Semico Research. “Sarnoff’s Ultra-Sense solution is a ground-breaking way to utilize SOI’s unique properties to improve yields and reduce the cost of back-illuminated image sensor manufacturing.”

Leveraging more than 25 years of image sensor experience, Sarnoff’s Ultra-Sense solution addresses the cost and performance trade-offs required to move back-illuminated sensors into consumer and professional products.

Previous wafer thinning technology was cost-prohibitive because of poor uniformity and low yields. This limited its application in high resolution sensors to low volume specialty applications, often manufactured on an individual sensor basis. Now, Ultra-Sense back-illuminated image sensors can be employed in high performance, high-volume applications while providing higher yields and lower manufacturing costs.

“Camera users and advanced applications increasingly demand higher resolution,” said Dr. P.K. Swain, Sarnoff’s Director of Engineering, Imaging Systems. “But higher resolution has meant higher sensor fabrication costs. Ultra-Sense shatters this equation by providing manufacturers with a reliable method to cost-effectively achieve high resolution and performance, without compromise.”

Ultra-Sense back-illuminated image sensors improve the performance and lower costs of high-resolution CCD or CMOS imaging systems for:

  • Cell phone camera modules
  • Digital still cameras
  • Ultraviolet (UV) and Deep UV, Visible, Near Infrared (NIR) inspection systems
  • Spectroscopy systems
  • Surveillance systems

For more information, visit Sarnoff at SEMICON West 2008, July 15 – 17, in booth #8810.

About Sarnoff Corporation
Sarnoff Corporation delivers vision, video and semiconductor technology innovations that empower government and commercial clients to see/sense, understand and control complex environments. Founded in 1942 as RCA Laboratories, Sarnoff makes continuous breakthroughs in real-time video processing for defense, security and surveillance; ICs, lasers, imaging and sensing devices; high-performance networking and wireless communications. Sarnoff is a subsidiary of SRI International.