InVisage Technologies has announced a mini image sensor capable of four times the performance and twice the dynamic range of conventional CCD and CMOS sensors. The company has harnessed the unique properties of a quantum-dot based material which can be placed on conventional circuitry to dramatically improve picture quality and sensor performance.

Years in development, and hailed as the next evolutionary step in image capture, QuantumFilm from InVisage Technologies uses a special class of semiconductor called quantum dots - nanocrystals contained within a thin film material. Whereas silicon-based image sensors "capture on average a mere 25 percent of light", integrating QuantumFilm boosts that right up to over 90 percent "enabling better pictures in even the most challenging lighting conditions".

Jess Lee of InVisage explained the limits to using silicon: "It is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to develop next-generation image sensors using silicon; essentially, silicon has hit a wall. The fundamental problem is that silicon cannot capture light efficiently, but until now it has been the only option. The disruptive nature of QuantumFilm builds on silicon's success in electronics, and elevates its function using new materials that are engineered from the ground up for light capture."

In the final stages of sensor manufacture, the QuantumFilm material is integrated on standard semiconductor architecture at minimal additional cost and "will enable high pixel count and high performance in tiny form factors". Unsurprising then that the first product to feature InVision's technology will be a mobile handset, which is due to appear later this year.

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