Bart Dierickx a pioneer of CMOS sensors, co-founder and CTO of Caeleste, explains in the latest MVPro influencer Q&A, the company’s ability to deliver custom-made sensors and their benefits.
MVPro: Can you tell us about Caeleste?
BD: Caeleste started in 2006 as a design house. Now days we are a one stop shop for custom made image sensors and pixel arrays of any kind. Our core activity is still design of such arrays starting from customer’s specs. However, Caeleste has broaden its activities to testing, characterisation and production.
We serve various domains, with notable exceptions of consumer imaging and military. Effectively the larges domains are medical imaging, life sciences, scientific imaging, space and several other smaller niches.
MVPro: The company specialises in custom-made sensors. What does a custom-built sensor offer?
BD: Custom design offers you the possibility to optimise and focus on target specifications. If you compare it to cars, off the shelf cars are mass produced and you can buy them at you dealer. They are beautiful pieces of engineering, but they must comply to a very large number of criteria at the same time to serve a broad market. The fastest off the shelf car is a snail compared to a custom designed Formula 1 car, the most ecological commercial vehicle is no match for a custom designed World Solar Challenge participant.
So, in terms of a custom-made sensor, variations may relate to pixel size and geometry, raw speed, sparse imaging speed, non-visible wavelengths, smart sensors, radiation hardness, extreme temperatures and many more.
MVPro: What is the demand for these, from who and what are the benefits?
BD: Our customers are often leaders in their field and want to reach or stay on top in performance.
MVPro: How do these differ from a ‘normal’ sensor?
BD: Take any specification of an existing state–of–the–art image sensor, say speed, dynamic range, noise equivalent contrast or radiation tolerance etc and make that 10x tougher. That is what we do.
MVPro: Can you explain more about the process on designing and delivering a sensor?
BD: It all starts with a thorough analysis and understanding, which are the key desired performance parameters. Which ones are trivial and which ones can be sacrificed or be traded-off. Then we follow the conceptual or schematic design followed by the geometrical design and eventually the Silicon foundry process.
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