MANHASSET, N.Y. Eastman Kodak Company (Rochester, N.Y.) and IBM (Armonk, N.Y.) have signed a multi-year agreement under which both companies would collaborate
on developing and manufacturing image sensors for consumer products such as digital still cameras and camera phones.
The agreement would leverage Kodak's portfolio of image sensor technology and IBM's complementary metal oxide
semiconductor (CMOS) processing expertise. It would allow Kodak to commercialize a new family of CMOS image sensor (CIS) devices as the company attempts to accelerate the growth of its digital businesses.
IBM would expand its value-added foundry offerings to include the design and high-volume production of image sensors for digital consumer imaging applications.
"Worldwide demand for image sensor devices is expanding at an explosive pace," said Chris McNiffe, General Manager of Kodak's Image Sensor Solutions business, in a statement. "Our collaboration with IBM now allows Kodak to deploy our core competencies in image science and sensor research into high-volume consumer applications, thereby significantly expanding the market opportunities for our products."
A key technology element is Kodak's CIS pixel technology, including proprietary pinned photodiode and 4T cell architectures. These technologies, licensed to IBM as part of this agreement, permit the manufacture of CIS pixels that reportedly approach the size of the smallest CCD pixels offered today, with improved photosensitivity and lower noise.
Kodak also expects to leverage design resources and intellectual property acquired from National Semiconductor Corp. to produce advanced CIS devices for products that can capture multi-megapixel still images as well as fast-moving videos under low light.
The agreement would also leverage IBM's 0.18-micron CMOS copper manufacturing process at its Burlington, Vermont, semiconductor facility, where the image sensors will be produced.