Interesting find making the rounds on the Net: Sony officially talking up their curved sensor technology. Forget microlenses, forget flange focal distance issues. A curved sensor has no light loss at corners, no soft corners, no aberration. Light rays would hit the sensor perfectly straight. Well this is no longer science fiction.
Photofiles, rejoice. Today, only image sensors with flat, planar sensor surface are in general use today in various vision applications. A curved, spherical sensor surface still sounds like science fiction, even though it seems doable and would have many advantages, just to mention the potential for a considerable simplification of the lens system in use.
Sony’s about to bring us a sensor which should optimize both footprint and quality. According to a paper titled “A Novel Curved CMOS Image Sensor Integrated With Imaging System” to be presented at the 2014 VLSI Technology Symposium on June 10, Sony has achieved this amazing feat:
We realized an ultimately advanced imaging system that comprises a curved, back illuminated CMOS image sensor (BIS) and integrated lens which doubles the sensitivity at the edge of the image circle and increases the sensitivity at the center of the image circle by a factor of 1.4 with one fifth lower dark current than that of a planar BIS. Because the lens field curvature aberration was overcome in principle by the curved sensor itself, the curved BIS enables higher system sensitivity through design of a brighter lens with a smaller F number than is possible with a planar BIS. At the same time, we controlled the tensile stress of the BIS chip to produce a curved shape that widens the energy bandgap to obtain a lower dark current. The curved CIS can be applied to an ultimately advanced imaging system that is validated by the evolution of the animal eye in nature.
That’s right, we could use lenses wide open without worries with a technology that approaches the resolution power of animal eyes. Sounds too good to be true?
Sony wouldn’t go public with something that can radically alter advanced photography systems if they wouldn’t have the technology up and ready in their laboratories.