Image sensor is smaller than a grain of rice

A collaboration between AT&S and ams Osram has resulted in an image sensor that is smaller than a grain of rice and lighter than a postage stamp.

AT&S developed the sensor’s PCB, while the sensor itself was built by ams Osram.

The sensor measures 1.0mm² and weighs about 1.0g. It is so small that it can be integrated into medical applications such as endoscopes as well as installed in smartphones, virtual reality (VR) cameras, and other wearables.

“The image sensor not only creates sharp images due to its 100,000-pixel resolution, but it also has low power consumption thanks to our smart connection architecture,” says Markus Maier, global account manager at AT&S.

The digicam sensor, which provides digital video output, enables visual sensing for mobile applications. One of the first products is ams Osram’s NanEye, one of the smallest digital cameras on the market. It can be used for eye-tracking in VR goggles as well as in the medical field, such as a camera head used for endoscopic examinations.

AT&S’s hardware design team from AISS (Advanced Interconnect Solution Services) created the layout while the interconnect design was realised using Embedded Component Packaging (ECP) technology which enables both active and passive components to be integrated into laminate-based substrates.

“Instead of placing the components on the PCB, they are integrated into the PCB,” Maier says.

EPC is made possible by a special manufacturing process. After the respective components have been integrated into a resin layer, they are connected by copper-filled, laser-drilled micro vias. This eliminates the need for solder joints for the embedded component, while at the same time enabling finer designs on the outer layer and providing the components with the best possible protection against external influences. With ECP, more components can be integrated into the PCB while the size of the end device remains the same, says AT&S. This increases functionality but alternatively, the circuit board can be shrunk while maintaining the same range of functions for more compact end devices.

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