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Interview with EPFL

Ahead of his session at Image Sensors Europe 2020, Professor Edoardo Charbon, Chair of VLSI at EPFL gave us a sneak preview about his forthcoming presentation, his perspectives on the biggest industry challenges and future image sensor advancements. 

Q. You will be speaking on Large-format SPAD cameras – can you give us some insight into what delegates will hear during your presentation?

SPAD technology has seen exceptional growth in recent years due primarily to its full compatibility with CMOS image sensor processes. In 2007, I wrote a paper for IISW – the international image sensor workshop – that advocated megapixel cameras based on CMOS SPADs. This dream finally came true at the end of 2019 after a long process of miniaturization, a process I will discuss at IS Europe, along with the motivation for making large-format SPAD cameras in the first place

Q. What do you think will be the biggest challenges to the image sensors industry in the next 12-24 months? How do you think the conference agenda addresses these?

The world’s image sensors industry is still expanding thanks to the ever-increasing demands of smartphones. But this expansion will soon slow down and thus this industry will need to re-invent itself, as it did when the market of digital cameras saturated in the early 2000s. I see this as the main challenge for our industry but also a great opportunity for expansion in new markets. I believe Benedetto Vigna, one of this year’s top IS Europe speakers, may address what STMicroelectronics is doing in this respect.

Q. What do you think will be some of the most interesting advancements in image sensors in the near future?

I believe that new materials, provided they are CMOS compatible, will boost sensitivity and speed in new image sensors. 3D-stacking will continue to evolve, enabling further expansion of functionality on chip and leading to more versatile imagers and smarter cameras. Finally, SPAD imagers will continue to amaze us in both architectural innovations and new applications.

Q. What are you most looking forward to about attending the Image Sensors Europe Conference?

I am looking forward to the wonderful and detailed under-the-hood descriptions of new and successful imagers, along with visionary talks on the future of the image sensor industry. I am also expecting some announcements and news.