Diagonal 6.46 mm (Type 1/2.8) Approx. 3.21M-Effective Pixel Color CMOS Image Sensor

photo_IMX123LQT

Back-Illuminated CMOS Image Sensor with Improved Near Infrared Sensitivity for Industrial Applications

Sony has developed the approx. 3.21M-pixel back-illuminated CMOS image sensor IMX123LQT with improved sensitivity in the near infrared range for industrial applications.
Sensitivity in the near infrared range has been increased to 1.5 or more times that of existing models by applying technical know-how for improving sensitivity in the near infrared range developed for front-illuminated structures to the pixels of an industry-leading*1 back-illuminated structure. In addition, this new image sensor is equipped with a variety of functions enabling selection of WDR (wide dynamic range), gain settings and interface according to the application.

*1: As of April 2014 (based on Sony's research)

  • Back-illuminated structure with 2.5 µm unit pixel
  • Introduction of technology that improves sensitivity in the near infrared range achieves near infrared sensitivity 1.5 or more times that of existing products. (Approx. 3.8 times that of the IMX136LQJ, and approx. 1.5 times that of the IMX124LQT)
  • Supports various WDR functions
  • A variety of gain modes
  • Low-voltage LVDS/MIPI (CSI-2 compliant)

Exmor R
* Exmor R is a trademark of Sony Corporation. The Exmor R is a Sony's CMOS image sensor with significantly enhanced imaging characteristics including sensitivity and low noise by changing fundamental structure of Exmor™ pixel adopted column parallel A/D converter to back-illuminated type.

STARVIS
* STARVIS is a trademark of Sony Corporation. The STARVIS is back-illuminated pixel technology used in CMOS image sensors for surveillance camera applications. It features a sensitivity of 2000 mV or more per 1 µm2 (color product, when imaging with a 706 cd/m2 light source, F5.6 in 1 s accumulation equivalent), and realizes high picture quality in the visible-light and near infrared light regions.

Back-Illuminated Structure + Improved Sensitivity in the Near infrared Range

Good sensitivity characteristics in the near infrared range are a key requirement of industrial application cameras. This new image sensor realizes even higher sensitivity by combining technology for improving sensitivity in the near infrared range used in front-illuminated structures typified by the existing Sony product, IMX222LQJ,*3 with the pixels of the 2.5 µm unit pixel back-illuminated structure used by the existing Sony product, IMX124LQT.*2
The IMX123LQT has approximately 1.5 times the sensitivity in the 850 nm wavelength range of the existing product, IMX124LQT. Despite having a different pixel size, the low-light picture quality and the sensitivity in the near infrared range are also vastly improved compared to the existing product, IMX136LQJ (2.8 µm unit pixel front-illuminated structure). (See photograph 2.)
In addition, optimization of the pixel separation structure and suppression of color mixing between pixels enables simultaneously reduction of disruption of the color balance and aggravation of color mixing, which easily occur when increasing sensitivity in the near infrared range, and achieves high picture quality in the visible light range. (See photograph 1.)

*2: See the New Product Information released in November 2013.
*3: See the New Product Information released in September 2013.

A Variety of WDR Modes

WDR functions are typically demanded of industrial application cameras. The IMX123LQT is equipped with the four different functions as follows in accordance with the ISP (image signal processor) to be used and the driving to be realized.

  • 1) 14-bit AD drive
    This enables expansion of the dynamic range by increasing the quantization resolution with a single exposure.
  • 2) Multiple frame set output function
    The exposure time and the gain can be set separately for each frame. This function helps to realize WDR functions, and can also be applied to applications such as bracket shooting.
  • 3) Function that combines two images with different exposure times inside the image sensor and outputs the synthesized image
    This function is suited to applications that aim to easily realize WDR when there is no function for combining multiple frames on the ISP side.
  • 4) DOL (digital overlap) drive
    This function outputs up to three frames of images alternately on each line. It requires a dedicated ISP, but provides advantages such as improved characteristics in low-light environments compared to conventional WDR that uses multiple frame set output. (See photograph 3.) Multiple DOL drive settings are provided to enable control and data reception in accordance with the ISP used.

* MIPI (CSI-2 compliant) does not support DOL drive.

A Variety of Gain Functions

Normal analog gain is a maximum of 27 dB. When using the gain expansion function, the frame rate is reduced by half, but the analog gain can be expanded by +12 dB. Together with the digital gain, a gain of up to 63 dB (max.) can be set by just the image sensor.
In addition, high picture quality can be realized by setting the gain separately for each color. In multiple frame set output mode, the gain can also be varied in each frame as described in the WDR item above. Furthermore, a mode is provided that outputs one pixel on two systems and applies gain separately to each output. Noise can be reduced or sensitivity increased through addition of pixel signals by setting a different gain for each of the two systems, or by applying the same gain to both systems and processing the output at the rear end. In this manner, a variety of gain functions are available and can be selected in accordance with the function characteristics to be realized.

Interfaces

The IMX123LQT is equipped with a low-voltage LVDS that can select 8-channel or 4-channel operation and an MIPI (CSI-2 compliant) interface, and these interfaces can be selected in accordance with the camera specifications. The MIPI (CIS-2 compliant) interface supports up to four lanes, so it does not support all IMX123LQT functions, but it enables easy connection with a general-purpose ISP.
In addition, the package is shared with the previously commercialized IMX124LQT, which facilitates common design.

*If the mouse cursor changes over the photo, you can click to see the larger version in a new window.

Photograph 1 IMX123LQT Sample Image

Condition: 500 lx F1.4 (QXGA image, 60 frame/s)

Photograph 1

IMX123LQT
Internal gain 0 dB

Photograph 2 Comparisons with the Existing Sony Product

Condition 1: 0.06 lx F1.4 (QXGA image, 30 frame/s)

Photograph 2-1

IMX136LQJ (FI 2.8 µm, 2.4 M pixels)
Internal gain 48 dB (Maximum gain)

Photograph 2-2

IMX123LQT (the new product)
Internal gain 63 dB (Maximum gain)

Condition 2: 0 lx (with IR) F2.8 (QXGA image, 30 frame/s)

Photograph 2-3
IMX136LQJ (FI 2.8 µm, 2.4 M pixels)
Internal gain 0 dB

Photograph 2-4

IMX123LQT (the new product)
Internal gain 0 dB

Photograph 3 Sample Images with WDR

Photograph 3-1

Sample images with single exposure

Photograph 3-2

Sample images with DOL-WDR

Table 1 Device Structure
Item IMX123LQT
Image size Diagonal 6.46 mm (Type 1/2.8) (QXGA mode)
Diagonal 5.56 mm (Type 1/3.2) (Full HD mode)
Number of effective pixels 2065 (H) × 1553 (V) approx. 3.21M pixels
Unit cell size 2.50 µm (H) × 2.50 µm (V)
Optical blacks Horizontal Front: 0 pixels, rear: 0 pixels
Vertical Front: 12 pixels, rear: 0 pixels
Input drive frequency 54 MHz / 27 MHz /
37.125 MHz / 74.25 MHz
Package 98-pin LGA
Supply voltage VDD (Typ.) 2.8 V / 1.8 V / 1.2 V
Table 2 Image Sensor Characteristics
Item Value Remarks
G sensitivity (F5.6) Typ. 600 mV 1/30s accumulation
Saturation signal Min. 812 mV Tj = 60 °C
Table 3 Basic Drive Mode
Drive mode Interface ADC Frame rate (Max.) Bit rate (Max.)
QXGA Low voltage LVDS
serial 8 ch
12 bits 120 frame/s 648 Mbps/ch
Low voltage LVDS
serial 4 ch
12 bits 60 frame/s 648 Mbps/ch
Low voltage LVDS
serial 4ch
14 bits 30 frame/s 594 Mbps/ch
CSI-2 4 lane 12 bits 60 frame/s 702 Mbps/lane
CSI-2 4 lane 14 bits 30 frame/s 594 Mbps/lane
Full HD Low voltage LVDS
serial 8 ch
12 bits 120 frame/s 594 Mbps/ch
Low voltage LVDS
serial 4 ch
12 bits 60 frame/s 594 Mbps/ch
Low voltage LVDS
serial 4 ch
14 bits 60 frame/s 594 Mbps/ch
CSI-2 4 lane 12 bits 60 frame/s 445.5 Mbps/lane
CSI-2 4 lane 14 bits 60 frame/s 594 Mbps/lane

*Sony reserves the right to change products and specifications without prior notice.

VOICE

group photo_Designers

We introduced new technology to the IMX123LQT that enhances sensitivity in the near infrared range in order to further improve our back-illuminated structure technology, which is one of Sony's strengths, for industrial applications. In addition, this ambitious image sensor also incorporates new challenges such as new WDR functions and new gain functions.
Our team holds high expectations that this new image sensor can help customers to develop new cameras. Please check the results of the challenges achieved with the IMX123LQT.