ams Unveils NIR Image Sensor Offering Excellent Power Efficiency in 3D Optical Sensing Systems

Posted Jan 14, 2020 by ams AG

ams has introduced a new CMOS Global Shutter Sensor (CGSS) Near Infrared (NIR) image sensor CGSS130, complementing its recently announced 3D system. It enables 3D optical sensing applications such as face recognition, payment authentication and more to operate at much lower power than alternative implementations. This means that battery-powered devices can run longer between charges – a key differentiator for OEMs – while supporting more sophisticated sensor functions.

The CGSS130 sensor, which is four times more sensitive to NIR wavelengths than other image sensors on the market today, reliably detects reflections from very low-power IR emitters in 3D sensing systems. Since the IR emitter consumes most of the power in face recognition and other 3D sensing applications, the use of the CGSS130 sensor will enable manufacturers to extend battery run-time in mobile devices. The sensor also creates the opportunity to implement face recognition in wearable devices and in other products which are powered by a very small battery, or to enable a new range of applications beyond face recognition as the increased sensitivity extends the measurement range for the same power budget.

Following the announcement of its’ partnership with SmartSens Technology earlier, ams announced the first 3D Active Stereo Vision (ASV) reference design based on the CGSS130 voltage-based NIR enhanced global shutter image sensor. The 1.3MP stacked BSI sensor offers the highest quantum efficiency at 940nm, ideally suited for battery-powered devices. By supplying all main parts of the 3D system (illumination, receiver, SW) ams enables superior system performance with lower costs and a faster time to market for its customers.

Extending ams’ Product Portfolio for 3D Sensing

Development of the CGSS130 has been accelerated by ams’ partnership with SmartSens Technology, a global supplier of high-performance CMOS image sensors. ams’ strategic approach is to further broaden its portfolio in all three 3D sensing technologies – Active Stereo Vision (ASV), Time-of-Flight (ToF) and Structured Light (SL) – while accelerating time to market for a more differentiated set of new products. The constituents of the CGSS130 reflect this strategy to cover a wide range of applications such as ASV systems, e-locks, room scanning, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) as well as other applications. The introduction of NIR image sensors complements ams’ existing offerings for mobile 3D sensing:

  • NIR VCSEL emitters, including the PMSIL range of flood emitters, for example for ToF, and the Belago range of dot pattern projectors for SL or ASV
  • Face detection and face matching software
  • Reference designs which enable faster time-to-market for OEMs with systems offering high-performance depth maps for payment, face recognition and AR/VR applications at a highly competitive total system cost

Advanced Technology for Higher Performance

The CGSS130 sensor has high quantum efficiency at the NIR wavelengths, up to 40% at 940nm, and up to 58% at 850nm. Thanks to the stacked BSI process used to fabricate the CGSS global shutter image sensors, they offer a very small footprint where the footprint of the CGSS130’s die is just 3.8mm x 4.2mm and the GS pixel size is 2.7um. The sensor produces monochrome images with an effective pixel array of 1080H × 1280V at a maximum frame rate of 120 frames/s. This high frame rate and global shutter operation produce clean images free of blur or other motion artifacts. It also offers a high dynamic range (HDR) mode in which it achieves a dynamic range of more than 100dB. It also implements advanced functions such as external triggering, windowing, and horizontal or vertical mirroring.