Physics & Astronomy Colloquium - Prof. Eric R. Fossum, Thayer School, Dartmouth

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Physics & Astronomy Colloquium - Prof. Eric R. Fossum, Thayer School, Dartmouth

Title: "Quanta Image Sensor: Every Photon Counts"

Friday, January 6, 2017
Wilder 104
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Lectures & Seminars

Abstract:  About 10 years after the invention of the CMOS image sensor at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the early 1990’s, I was asked to write a book chapter on the future of digital still cameras. I proposed a binary, photon-counting image sensor now called the Quanta Image Sensor. It was a sort of wild idea at the time, but somewhat surprisingly, it now seems technically feasible. In this talk a brief review of the CMOS image sensor and a few fundamental physical principles behind its operation will be given. The Quanta Image Sensor will then be introduced. Conceptually it consists of perhaps one billion specialized pixels called “jots” that are read out at perhaps 1000 frames per second. Each jot is sensitive enough to count a single photoelectron. Recent progress at Dartmouth in achieving the QIS will be presented. We have shown the feasibility of making small (visible light) arrays that can count single photoelectrons at room temperature without the use of avalanche multiplication with good accuracy. The devices, implemented in a 65nm technology-node, backside-illuminated, CMOS image sensor foundry, also feature dark current less than 0.1e-/s at room temperature. The jot device and high speed readout electronics will be discussed, as well as the possible paradigm shift in image capture for scientific and consumer imaging that can now be envisioned and enabled.



Dr. Eric Fossum is a Professor at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth and Director of the School’s Ph.D. Innovation Program.  He is a semiconductor device physicist and engineer specializing in image sensor technology and is currently exploring the Quanta Image Sensor. He is best known for the invention of the CMOS image sensor now used in billions of cameras. He was inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2011 and is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering and a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

He received his B.S. in Physics and Engineering from Trinity College, Connecticut USA in 1979, his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1984 and became an EE faculty member at Columbia University. In 1990 he was recruited to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech where he managed JPL’s image sensor and focal-plane technology R&D and invented the CMOS image sensor. He then co-founded and led Photobit Corporation to commercialize the technology. Photobit was acquired by Micron in 2001. He later served as CEO of Siimpel Corporation to commercialize MEMS auto-focus actuators for camera phones.  He worked with Samsung Electronics before joining Dartmouth in 2010. He has published over 280 technical papers and holds over 160 US patents.   Dr. Fossum co-founded the International Image Sensor Society (IISS) and served as first President. He and his wife operate a hobby farm in New Hampshire and he enjoys his time on his tractor.


For more information, contact:
Tressena Manning

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.