We’re always hearing about some new trick to enhance camera sensor performance; sometimes it’s a simple as larger pixels (to take a page from HTC’s playbook), or better isolating pixels from each other, like with Samsung’s ISOCELL tech. Now Sony’s got a new sensor that’s making waves, using a curved CMOS element to more naturally and effectively gather light.
The problem with flat sensors like we have now is that not every point along their surface is equidistant from the lens – the center of the sensor is going to be slightly closer than the edges. As a result, we need larger lenses to compensate for this discrepancy. By moving to a curved sensor, Sony’s able to allow for the use of lenses that aren’t just thinner, but also able to let more light in, scoring a double win.
Actually, the curved sensor benefits extend even further, offering unexpected bonuses like cutting down on CMOS dark current noise, improving image fidelity. Light sensitivity ends up improved by a factor of 1.4 to 2.
Sony’s developing these sensors for full-sized cameras, but also has a mobile version, which may find itself in future smartphones. While Sony’s not the first company to attempt a sensor design like this, it may be the first to commercialize it, and while we don’t have anything like an ETA, the team working on it says that they’re ready to face that task, soon as the decision’s made.