Toshiba unveils new CMOS sensor, flaunts smaller pixels

Hoping your next smartphone will have more megapixels while being even thinner than the last? Us too, but we're not known to skimp on image quality -- an unfortunate conundrum of squishing more pixels into a tighter space. Enter Toshiba's new CMOS sensor, advancing on both fronts, with 8 megapixels and what the firm reckons is the smallest pixel size in the industry at 1.12 micrometers. Also present is backside illumination, helping maximize photon accrual -- which should make a certain Steve oh-so proud. Currently being sampled, the teensy gizmo plans to go into mass production later this year. Interested? Peep the full release after the break.

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Toshiba Corporation launches highly sensitive CMOS image sensor with Back Side Illumination
Develops 1.12 micrometer products for smartphones
7 Jul, 2011

1.12 micrometer pixel CMOS image sensor

TOKYO- Toshiba Corporation (TOKYO: 6502) today announced the launch of a new 1.12 micrometer pixel CMOS image sensor, the latest addition to its CMOS image sensor line-up, that offers the industry's smallest level pixel size with enhanced sensitivity and improved imaging performance of back-side illumination technology (BSI). Sampling of the new sensor will begin at the end of this month and mass production will follow from the end of 2011.

As smartphones get smaller and their image sensors continue to offer higher resolutions, now in a range from 5M pixels to 8M pixels, the challenge here is of smaller pixels, where miniaturization can result in a fall off in performance. BSI overcomes this and brings a new level of responsiveness to CMOS imaging. BSI sensors deploy lenses on the rear of the sensor, on its silicon substrate, not on the front, where wiring limits light absorption. This positioning boosts light sensitivity and absorption, and allows formation of finer image pixels in smaller CMOS image sensors, bringing it more suitable for motion pictures applications as well.

Toshiba has made full use of the advantages of BSI to realize image pixels with a pitch of 1.12 micrometers, and to pack 8.08 million of them into a 1/4-inch sensor. The new sensor achieves high level imaging and processing that will bring a new level of image quality to smartphones.

Toshiba expects BSI CMOS image sensors to become the mainstream technology in portable digital technology, with applications expanding from mobile phones and digital cameras to smartphones and tablets.

CMOS image sensors are a focus product of Toshiba's Analog and Imaging Systems business. The latest addition to and enhancement of its BSI CMOS sensor line-up will reinforce the sensor business and the company's ability to meet the dual market requirements of smaller products and higher resolutions.