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European projects advance CMOS technology

03 Jun 2015

EXIST and CISTERN bring the continent's developers together to work on next-generation sensors.

Two recently inaugurated European research projects are focused on developing next-generation CMOS sensors for a range of applications, along with continuing to advance the continent's technical expertise in the sector.

EXIST - or EXtended Imaging Sensor Technologies - is a consortium created to investigate and develop new technologies for image sensors to be used in the "next plus one" generation of several CMOS-based applications.

In particular, its research will focus on developing new design architectures and process technologies for better pixel performance; and extended pixel sensitivity and functionality across a broad range of performance parameters.

Improvements to optical, analog and data imaging pipelines so as to enable higher frame rates and better memory management is another goal.

The EXIST group brings together more than a dozen R&D institutes, fabless design houses and system integrators. Partners currently include IMEC, Fraunhofer IMS, Sofradir and Adimec.

As the program develops, EXIST's new sensor and filter designs are intended to prove their worth in nine individual demonstrators spread across several targeted application sectors.

These are due to include high-end security cameras with UHDTV resolution and multispectral capability; hyperspectral applications in health care such as retinal screening; driver assistance systems in the automotive sector; and agriculture, where multi-camera imaging can offer continuous monitoring of plant health.

Europe's digital lifestyle is also a focus, through cameras and lenses supporting the move towards 8K resolution in consumer and home applications.

The EXIST group was created under the Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership Joint Undertaking (ECSEL JU) in April 2015, and is intended to run for three years.

Europe's societal needs
Meanwhile the CISTERN (CMOS Image Sensor TEchnologies’ Readiness for Next generation of applications) project has been created to develop CMOS image sensors suited to forthcoming applications in broadcasting, entertainment, multi-spectral imaging, and the security sector.

Partners in the initiative include Thales Angenieux, Delft University of Technology and Adimec. Like EXIST, the CISTERN project commenced earlier in 2015 and will finish in 2018.

CISTERN's research agenda includes improvements to pixel quantum efficiency and functionality, along with reductions in signal noise; routes to smaller pixels and higher spatial and temporal resolutions; plus new application-related processing algorithms.

The project was awarded by the Cluster for Application and Technology Research in Europe on NanoElectronics (CATRENE) program, which aims to allow developers of nano- and micro-electronics applications to more efficiently meet the Continent's changing societal needs.

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