Quanta Image Sensor Promises Ultra Low Light Performance

January 2nd, 2018 icon / message-square 3
Quanta Image Sensor Promises Ultra Low Light Performance
 The Quanta Image Sensor (QIS) – co-invented by Eric R. Fossum, inventor of the CMOS image sensor – promises incredible low light performance.

Already being called the “next generation” of photographic imaging technology, the Quanta Image Sensor achieves more sensitive, higher-quality imaging than today’s CMOS imagers.

We have reported on a number of sensor innovations and new technologies that promise to bring us ever closer to taking that perfectly exposed shot of a black cat in a closet in the middle of a moonless night. Yet we are all still fighting our “more pixels vs better pixels” resolution war on the same old first-generation silicon wafers common to nearly all cameras across the world today.

Quanta Image Sensor

The Quanta Image Sensor

Engineers from Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering have developed this new imaging technology that may revolutionize medical and life sciences research, security, photography, cinematography and other applications that rely on high-quality low-light imaging.

“The QIS is a revolutionary change in the way we collect images in a camera,” said Jiaju Ma who co-authored the paper with Fossum, published in Optica. Out of all the new imaging tech to surface in recent years, the Quanta Image Sensor looks to be the front runner for a number of reasons. According to Ma, the QIS platform technology is unique because the sensor incorporates:

  • “Jots” – the name the research team has given to very small pixels – which are sensitive enough to detect a single photon of light
  • Ultra-fast scanning of the jots
  • Scalability from one to hundreds of megapixels
  • Compatible with the low cost and mass production of today’s CMOS image sensor technology

Earlier this year, researchers Masoodian, Ma and Fossum co-founded the startup company Gigajot Technology to develop and apply the technology to a number of applications.

It would be great to see a commercial, large-format Quanta Image Sensor in a cinema camera soon, or even in a smartphone. The entire digital photography and motion picture market is ripe for a revolution in sensor tech.

To read more about the Quanta Image Sensor, check out this article in phys.org and the paper in Optica.

For more on other new sensor technologies we have covered see the articles below.

What do you think of the Quanta Image Sensor, or any other new sensor technology? Which do you think holds the most promise to usher in the next revolution in digital imaging? How long do you think we’ll wait to see a commercial mass-produced chip? Let us know in the comments.

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