CMOS Image Sensors

Die Entwicklung von optischen Sensoren für die Bilderfassung auf Basis von CMOS Technologien hat einen Stand erreicht, an dem die Qualität und Leistung der ausgereiften CCD Technologie nicht nur erreicht sondern sogar übertroffen wird. Darüber hinaus bietet die CMOS Technologie die Kointegration von Elektronik an, was Kameramodule ermöglicht, die auf einem Chip integriert sind. Dieser Fortschritt wurde vor allem durch die Optimierung der CMOS Prozesse erreicht. Die Entwicklung spezieller Photodetektor-Bauelemente oder die besondere Bearbeitung der Silizium-Oberfläche hat den Wirkungsgrad der Pixel deutlich verbessert und dabei gleichzeitig negative Effekte reduziert.

Das Fraunhofer IMS besitzt eine lange Erfahrung sowohl im Design von CMOS Photodetektoren und Imagern als auch in ihrer Prozessierung und Charakterisierung. Wir betreiben eine 8-Zoll (200 mm) CMOS-Linie, die nach den Standards der Automobil-Industrie zertifiziert ist. Unsere Kunden profitieren von unserem Standard 0,35 µm CMOS Prozess der für die Anwendungen der Bildaufnahme optimiert wurde. Im weiteren bieten wir auch die Weiterbearbeitung der CMOS-Wafer an, was das Aufbringen von Farbfiltern, Mikrolinsen und einer Anti-Reflektionsschicht beinhaltet sowie Stitching, Waferdünnung, MEMS oder Waferverbindungstechniken. Unsere Forschungs- und Entwicklungsaktivitäten decken eine weites Spektrum von Röntgenstrahlen über EUV, UV und den sichtbaren Bereich bis zum nahen Infrarot ab.

Wir bieten unseren Kunden maßgeschneiderte Designs auf Basis der CMOS Prozesse des Fraunhofer IMS an oder auch für Foundryprozesse für die Pilotfertigung. Des weiteren umfasst unser Angebot spezielle Dienstleistungen im Bereich Wafer-post-processing, der Prozessoptimierung und natürlich unser Know-How. Wenn Sie einen anwendungsspezifischen Imager oder Photosensor mit speziellen Leistungsmerkmalen benötigen, der noch über den aktuellen Stand der Technik hinausgeht, sind wir Ihr Ansprechpartner und nehmen die Herausforderung gerne an!

Angebot und Leistungen

  •     Forschung, Entwicklung und Prozessierung von hochleistungsfähigen
  •     Photodetektoren und Imagern auf CMOS-Basis für spezielle Kundenanwendungen
  •     Nutzung des für die Bildersensoren optimierten Fraunhofer IMS 0,35 µm
  •     CMOS-Prozesses.
  •     Entwicklung von neuen Photodetektor-Bauelementen.
  •     Modellierung von Photodetektor-Baulementen und ihre Optimierung mit den
  •     besten Simulationsprogrammen.
  •     Charakterisierung von Parametern für Photodetektorbaulemente (Kapazität,
  •     Dunkelstrom, spektrale Empfindlichkeit, etc.)
  •     Design und Prozessierung von kundenspezifischen Bild- und Photosensoren
  •     Elektro-optischer Test auf Wafer- und Chip-Ebene
  •     IC Qualifizierung.
  •     Pilotfertigung von ASICs.
  •     Vollständiges Dienstleistungsangebot vom Konzept bis zur Pilotfertigung.
  •     Prototypenherstellung von Kamera- und Photosensorsystemen.
  •     Entwicklung von Firmware and Software.
  •     Beratungsservice und Machbarkeitsstudien.


© Foto AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH
© Foto Fraunhofer IMS
© Foto Fraunhofer IMS

© Foto Fraunhofer IMS

Seeing the Future in Duisburg/Germany



The 8th CMOS Imaging Workshop of Fraunhofer IMS in Duisburg/Germany takes place on 9th and 10th May, 2016. It addresses topical aspects of imaging in the future.

New devices for 3D imaging will be presented which are appropriate for advanced driver assistance or human-machine interfacing. Novel applications of embedded cameras will be discussed which are of high public interest, as they are used in space observation and UAVs. Technology and testing are also part of the discussion as well as single photon imaging. To make the programme perfect specialists will give an overview on future technical prospects and market developments.

Fraunhofer IMS invites you cordially to participate! The programme and list of speakers are available here. Fill out the registration form and send it back by email or fax. We are looking forward to your visit!

Fast and high accurate optical positioning sensors for Industry 4.0


Fraunhofer IMS is developing a new optical positioning sensor for the growing requirements in machine vision and production technology applications. With Industry 4.0 intelligent sensors become more and more important for smart factories whereby actual sensors are reaching their limits.

The goal of Industry 4.0 is connecting the whole manufacturing process and logistics into IT and offers many advantages like adaptability, resource efficiency and integration of business partners.

Traditionally optical sensors with triangulation method take a special role in these applications but actual sensors are limited in accuracy, speed and reliability. At these points Fraunhofer IMS will set new standards to reach the upcoming requirements for optical positioning sensors in Industry 4.0.

Objectives to be achieved with the new optical positioning sensor is a framerate up to 100 kHz, a high responsivity, fast blooming detection, ambient light suppression, and low power consumption. With a region of interest controller pixel blocks can be selected. This allows to readout only the interesting area of pixels and enhances the framerate.

New state-of-the-art CMOS SPAD technology at Fraunhofer


Fraunhofer IMS has extended its portfolio in CMOS based SPAD (single photon avalanche diode) sensors. These SPAD-based sensors are developed in IMS 0.35 μm CMOS technology and show excellent performance in dark count rate (DCR) and timing resolution, well above today’s technological standards.

An integrated Silicon Photomultiplier (SiPM) with 400 SPAD elements shows a DCR of 30 kHz and photon detection efficiency (PDE) of 30% at 460 nm. SPAD-based silicon photomultipliers can be well used in PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and particle physics experiments.

Another example is a 128x2 pixel linear sensor with 20 μm pixel pitch and 60% fill factor. This sensor enables quenching and recharging and hence allows for time gating applications. The new devices are perfect candidates for various challenging applications like spectroscopy, timeof-flight ranging, fluorescence lifetime-imaging, and security surveillance.

Experts meet at SiPM Workshop 2015


In light of recent successful developments in the field of silicon photomultipliers (SiPM) and single photon counters, Fraunhofer IMS has organized an international workshop with companies and research institutes from various European countries. More than 30 participants came together to share SiPM requirements demanded by their applications, and outline contemporary trends in this field.

One of the main topics of the workshop was the development of 3D integrated CMOS SPAD SiPM for several particle and nuclear physics experiments. 3D integration technology is widely considered the future of CMOS technology in general and CMOS image sensors in particular. Adoption of the technology by SiPM community is a great technological challenge. Solving this problem will dramatically boost functionality of SiPMs and allow for the conquest of new frontiers.The workshop has also initiated a new networking platform to support information exchange between groups interested in SiPMs. The event has been received with acclaim and it has been decided to organize a follow-up workshop hosted by DESY in the first half of 2016.

© Foto Fraunhofer IMS

XPOSURE: Fastest Line-Scan Sensor of the World


Fraunhofer IMS and the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH developed a novel RGB CMOS line-scan sensor for applications in the fields of fast optical inspection systems. Operating with line-rates of 200 kHz (true RGB) and 600 kHz (b/w), the sensor represents the fastest line scan sensor ever!

This rapid tempo allows an RGB image resolution of 0.4 mm at a speed of 300 km/h. Application examples are: security print inspection, color print inspection, and industrial quality inspection. But in special modes the sensor also allows multispectral imaging with up to 60 channels or inline 3D recognition by photometric stereo.

The new sensor will be presented in a life demonstration at the »Laser World of Photonics« in Munich at Booth 414 in Hall A2.

New H2020 project for underwater imaging


UTOFIA started in February 2015 and will offer a compact and cost-effective underwater imaging system for turbid environments. Using range-gated imaging (see Figure 1), the system will extend the imaging range by factor 2 to 3 over conventional video systems.

At the same time, the system will provide video-rate 3D information. This will fill the current gap between short-range, high-resolution conventional video and long-range low-resolution sonar systems. UTOFIA offers a new modus operandi for the main targeted domains of application: marine life monitoring, harbor and ocean litter detection, fisheries and aquaculture stock assessment, and seabed mapping.

Within UTOFIA, Fraunhofer IMS will work on the development of an integrated CMOS based time-of-flight sensor fabricated in IMS’ 0.35 μm CMOS technology. IMS will also support the hard- and software integration of this sensor into the complete underwater imaging system.UTOFIA project partners are Sintef (NOR), odos imaging (SCO), DTU Aqua (DEN), AZTI (ESP), Subsea Tech (FR) and Bright Solutions (ITA).

For further information please visit the UTOFIA website

World record: Fastest Line-Scan Sensor in the World


Fraunhofer IMS and the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH developed a novel CMOS line-scan sensor for applications in the field of fast optical inspection systems such as printed text checking, material analysis, surface analysis, systems used in earth-surface scanning and aerial imaging. The sensor represents an important technological step towards high-speed & high quality imaging. Fraunhofer IMS fabricates the sensor in its own 0.35 μm CMOS process which is certified for automotive applications.
The sensor works with a line-rate of 200 kHz (true RGB) and 600 kHz (b/w). This rapid tempo allows an RGB image resolution of 0.4 mm at a speed of 300 km/h. The sensor can be synchronised with the inspection speed which is suitable e.g. for the detection of hair-line cracks in railway lines.

More information is available at the booth of Fraunhofer IMS, the presentation of the sensor will be at the booth of AIT at Booth 1D82.

Uncooled Far Infrared Detectors For Thermal Imaging


Fraunhofer IMS is developing and fabricating uncooled infrared detectors (IRFPA = infrared focal plane array) based on microbolometer for thermal imaging applications in the wavelength range between 8 μm and 14 μm. Typical applications for IRFPAs are thermal imaging, pedestrian detection for automotive driving-assistance systems, fire fighting, biological imaging, or military applications like target recognition.

The IRFPAs use microbolometers as the sensing elements. The microbolometers are read out by a novel readout architecture which utilizes massively parallel on-chip Sigma-Delta-ADCs. This results in a direct digital conversion of the resistance change of the microbolometer induced by incident infrared radiation. To reduce production costs a chip-scale-package is used as vacuum package. This vacuum package consists of an IR-transparent window with an antireflection coating and a soldering frame which is fixed by a wafer-to-chip process directly on top of the CMOS-substrate. The chip-scale-package is placed onto a detector board by a chip-on-board technique. The IRFPAs are completely fabricated at Fraunhofer IMS on 8” CMOS wafers with an additional surface micromachining process. Fraunhofer IMS has fabricated the first IRFPAs throughout Germany based on a 25 μm and a 17 μm microbolometer-process.

Fraunhofer IMS will offer the development and fabrication of application specific unccoled IRFPAs. Please feel free to contact us.

Embedded CCD Sensor


For applications like earth observation from space or high resolution document scanning a new sensor technology is under way at Fraunhofer IMS. The idea is to design and fabricate an embedded CCD sensor for time-delay-integration (TDI) on one chip together with CMOS circuitry for multiplexing and noise reduction by correlated-double-sampling. These features are only possible in a CMOS technology.

Several embedded CCD TDI test structures were developed in the IMS 0.35 μm CMOS process technology. These structures show excellent results for the above mentioned applications. Charge transfer efficiency (CTE) of 99.996% was measured which still can be improved by an optimized control of the clock signal shapes.

Crosstalk measurements have shown yet, that saturated CCD cells filled with about 1Mio electrons have no measurable influence to adjacent pixel cells. Because of all this promising results we are looking forward to design a smart CCD TDI Sensor in CMOS technology soon.

New CMOS Linear Image Sensor


A new sensor technology for time-correlated optical sensing has been developed and proven with a CMOS demonstrator. The chip comprises 386 pixels with 200 µm x 10 µm and has very high responsivity of 530 V/µJ/cm². Low dark current enables the integration of more than 10 seconds. A special feature is the fast electronic shutter which allows for time-correlated measurements. In combination with multi exposure and non-destructive readout the sensor exhibits also a high dynamic range of more than 60 dB.
The new sensor technology is mainly intended for synchronous low-light detection e.g. in emission spectroscopy, microscopy, biophotonics, etc.

An evaluation kit with the demonstrator will be soon available. Fraunhofer IMS offers to develop and fabricate sensors with customized pixel size and count.