Snapshot multispectral sensor blends colour & IR imaging

January 25, 2017 // By Graham Prophet
Belgian research centre imec is to introduce an image sensor with integrated colour (Red/Green/Blue, RGB) and narrow-band near-infrared (NIR) filters. This optical filter integration platform is expected to lead to applications in fields ranging from medical, industrial, security surveillance, automotive to virtual and augmented reality, where near-infrared signals need to be extracted and overlaid on top of colour images.

Imec believes this RGB-NIR multispectral platform demonstrates for the very first time the possibility of integrating together standard RGB colour filters, NIR-cut filter, NIR narrow band-pass filters and on-chip microlens technology, down to small pixels as small as 5µm. The NIR band-pass filter and design pattern implementation can be tuned to match requirements of a specific application case, for example the wavelength of a particular laser or LED light.


“An affordable, high resolution and high speed solution for integrating true RGB colour combined with narrow-band NIR detection was essential ... for future applications that need to detect or track near infra-red signals that [are] not visible to human eyes” explains Andy Lambrechts, program manager for imec’s integrated imaging activities. “This capability to integrate a colour view with one or several near-infrared narrow bands will be a key enabler for next-generation 3D, virtual reality (VR) & augmented reality (AR) imaging platforms. As well as in machine vision, medical, automotive and security surveillance applications.”

Using its in-house capability in CMOS scaling, its semiconductor fab, equipment and process technology, imec designs and manufactures interference based optical filters at wafer level, deposited and patterned directly on top of the CMOS image sensor pixels. Imec’s infrastructure provides very integrated, clean (class 1 – particle free) and high yield optical filter integration with potential for scalability to high-volume.


The first image sensor and camera prototypes are to be demonstrated at the SPIE Photonics West exhibition, 2017, in San-Francisco. They are already available for early sampling and evaluation by strategic partners.


More at;