LONDON – Foundry United Microelectronics Corp. and STMicroelectronics NV have announced a collaborative effort to develop a 65-nm CMOS image sensor processor that supports back-side illumination, which will be opened up to other foundry customers.
The two companies have already developed a front-side illuminated CMOS image sensor process. The use of back-side illumination of photodetector pixels through a thinned silicon die has advantages over conventional front-side illumination in terms of light capture and low-light performance.
The BSI partnership follows upon the two companies' success to manufacture ST's front-side illumination (FSI) processes at UMC's 300mm Fab12i in Singapore. The 1.1-micron pixel BSI process, which will also be developed at Fab12i, will be available as an open platform for customers to create image sensors for applications that require high resolution and picture quality with more than 10 million pixels. The 65-nm BSI process will be made available to foundry customers through a licensing agreement with ST.
UMC (Hsinchu, Taiwan) did not indicate how long the development would take or how soon it would be supplying ST with sensors or accepting designs from third parties.
UMC's competence in the CMOS image sensor (CIS) field includes existing manufacturing processes for both 200- and 300-mm diameter wafer manufacturing. The BSI process, already in use consumer applications, is expected to be adopted in the industrial and automotive fields.
"ST's previous success in imaging technologies with UMC gives us great confidence in the development of this next-generation image-sensor process technology with UMC," said Eric Aussedat, corporate vice president at ST, in a statement issued by UMC. "Our joint experience will enable ST to offer a state-of-the-art back-side illumination process to support all the applications and markets that we want to address."