Seoul, Korea--Planet82 has unveiled color imagers that capture still photos or video in very low light, thanks to their use of single-carrier-modulation photodetector (SMPD) technology in a full-color high-sensitivity imaging chip. The imagers, which include a black-and-white VGA, a full-color VGA, and two megapixel color sensors, were demonstrated at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES; Jan 8 to 11, 2007, Las Vegas, NV).
The company claims the devices have the clear image quality of conventional digital imagers, but with 2,000 times the light sensitivity and a size 50% smaller than traditional CMOS and CCD sensors. Applications include digital cameras, mobile phones, surveillance cameras, night vision, and rear-view sensors for cars.
The technology is based on research done at the Korea Electronics Technology Institute (Gyeonggi Do, Korea).
The sensors contain a metal and ceramic nanostructure that improves its quantum-mechanical properties, boosting its photoelectric effect. The SMPD can operate at light levels lower than than 1 lux (the equivalent of the light from one candle a meter away). The SMPD senses light at wavelengths extending into the infrared. The SMPD's pixel structuring increases its dynamic range so that it is highly sensitive, up to 3.5x104 V/lux s, enabling it to capture low-light pictures at frame rates of 30 fps. The SMPD is fabricated using traditional CMOS manufacturing processes.
Planet82 is working to develop a partnership for the mass production of SMPDs.