InVisage, based in Menlo Park, California, adds a thin layer of tiny particles called quantum dots to a circular wafer that will be sliced into hundreds of image sensors. Here, staff work in an ultra-clean room to avoid contaminating the process. The quantum dots are sensitive to light, much more so than the silicon layer used in today's conventional digital camera technology.
InVisage is showing off its QuantumFilm technology with a short video called Prix shot with a prototype smartphone. The QuantumFilm technology is designed to offer better dynamic range so it can capture details in both shadows and bright spots like the girl's forearm.
Taiwan-based TSMC builds about 95 percent of each InVisage image sensor, but then InVisage uses its own tools to apply the layer of quantum dots. It uses a combination of spin coating, which spins a circular wafer rapidly so a thin film of material spreads across its surface, and chemical vapor deposition, which is a way of adding material from a gas.
InVisage, which has been working for more than six years on its image-sensor technology, has been awarded 56 patents so far for its quantum dot approach. Many of them are framed at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, California.