SiOnyx has demonstrated imaging at light levels below 1 mLux (moonless starlight) at video frame rates with a 720P CMOS image sensor in a compact, low latency camera. Low light imaging is enabled by the combination of enhanced quantum efficiency in the near infrared together with state of the art low noise image sensor design. The quantum efficiency enhancements are achieved by applying Black Silicon, SiOnyx’s proprietary ultrafast laser semiconductor processing technology. In the near infrared, silicon’s native indirect bandgap results in low absorption coefficients and long absorption lengths. The Black Silicon nanostructured layer fundamentally disrupts this paradigm by enhancing the absorption of light within a thin pixel layer making 5 microns of silicon equivalent to over 300 microns of standard silicon. This results in a demonstrate 10 fold improvements in near infrared sensitivity over incumbent imaging technology while maintaining complete compatibility with standard CMOS image sensor process flows. Applications include surveillance, nightvision, and 1064nm laser see spot. Imaging performance metrics will be discussed.
Demonstrated performance characteristics:
Pixel size : 5.6 and 10 um
Array size: 720P/1.3Mpix
Frame rate: 60 Hz
Read noise: 2 ele/pixel
Spectral sensitivity: 400 to 1200 nm (with 10x QE at 1064nm)
Daytime imaging: color (Bayer pattern)
Nighttime imaging: moonless starlight conditions
1064nm laser imaging: daytime imaging out to 2Km
Martin U. Pralle, James E. Carey, Thomas Joy, Chris J. Vineis, and Chintamani Palsule, "IR CMOS: near infrared enhanced digital imaging (Presentation Recording)," Proc. SPIE 9555, Optical Sensing, Imaging, and Photon Counting: Nanostructured Devices and Applications, 95550D (Presented at SPIE Nanoscience + Engineering: August 12, 2015; Published: 5 October 2015); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2190366.4519371129001.
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