ON Semiconductor, driving energy efficient solutions, has set a new benchmark in low-light imaging for industrial markets with the introduction of a new class of CCD image sensor technology.

Combining ON Semiconductor’s Interline Transfer (IT) CCD pixel design with a newly developed electron multiplication (EM) output structure, the new technology enables image sensor solutions that deliver sub-electron noise performance with CCD-class image quality and uniformity for exceptional low-light imaging. The KAE-02150 image sensor, the first device available in the new technology, can capture 1080p (1920 x 1080) video in scenes with widely varying lighting conditions – from sunlight to starlight and from highlights to shadows – thereby greatly extending the imaging capability of a single camera imaging system. This is particularly useful for light-starved applications such as surveillance, defense/military, scientific and medical imaging and intelligent transportation systems.

“As the first device to leverage our new Interline Transfer EMCCD technology, the KAE-02150 Image Sensor delivers a revolutionary solution to the industry,” said Chris McNiffe, vice president, Image Sensor Business Unit at ON Semiconductor.  “By extending the superb image quality and uniformity of CCD devices into the extreme low-light regime, customers in industrial markets now have access to a new level of performance under the most challenging imaging conditions. This is a clear demonstration of ON Semiconductor’s ability to bring the most advanced imaging solutions to our customers by leveraging its expansive base of imaging technologies.”

The KAE-02150 deploys an output circuit design that enables high-dynamic range imaging by allowing either conventional CCD (low-gain) or EMCCD (high-gain) outputs to be utilised on a pixel-by-pixel basis within the same image.  Charge from each individual pixel is measured and the signal level is compared to a user selectable threshold in the camera system to determine where each charge packet is routed. Pixels from very low-light regions of the scene can be selectively routed to the EMCCD output, while pixels from bright regions of the image – which would typically saturate an EMCCD register and distort the image – are routed to the conventional CCD output amplifier.  With this intra-scene switchable gain feature, signals from both outputs can then be re-combined, allowing one camera to properly render bright regions in a dark field of view and enabling dynamic compensation under changing conditions such as headlights entering or leaving an extreme low light scene.

The new KAE-series is based on the proven performance of the TRUESENSE 5.5-micron IT-CCD platform.  With global shutter, excellent image uniformity, and high modulation transfer function (MTF), this IT-CCD platform is utilised today in a broad portfolio of devices ranging from 1 to 29 megapixels. The KAE-series- is expected to be expanded in the future to include additional optical formats, resolutions, and pixel sizes.

The KAE-02150 image sensor is sampling today, and will be available in Monochrome and Bayer Color configurations.  An evaluation kit including hardware and software will also be available by the end of 2014, allowing the performance of this new device to be characterized by customers for their specific applications.

VISION Trade Fair

The KAE-02150 Image Sensor will be demonstrated in the ON Semiconductor booth (1C82) at the 2014 VISION trade fair, held November 4th – 6th in Stuttgart, Germany.