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Interview with LFoundry

Ahead of his presentation at Image Senosrs Europe 2019, Roberto Bez, Vice-President of R&D at LFoundry  gave a short interview about his presentation on technologies for smart optical sensors, the current challenges in the industry and more!

Q. What will you be discussing at Image Sensors Europe?

In the automation race one of the key actions, to be autonomously executed, is to sense the world around. Among the different type of senses, the capability to “view” is fundamental, capturing the scenes, analysing the images, calculating the distances of objects, recognizing their shapes and motions, etc… All these sensing actions must be integrated in an electronic system capable to analyse all the acquired information and communicate with other systems. This is why the image sensing technology, especially the one based on silicon, is intensively growing addressing many different application fields.

Innovations is applied to the various optical sensor technologies, from the classical CMOS Image Sensor (CIS) to the optical analog-based sensing. CIS technologies have for example advanced in 3D integration, thus enabling higher performance imaging and higher integration for system-on-chip solutions. On the other side new optical sensing methods such as SiPM-SPAD for 3D-Imaging and Time-of-Flight (ToF) are finding their way into industrialization.

Thanks to these developments the optical sensor technology will enable new application and markets. One of the largest growing field is the automotive with the assisted or autonomous driving systems. Other application will be related to machine vision, in particular fundamental for IoT, medical detectors, space sensors and also scientific experiments, especially related to the high energy physics or the dark matter research.

Q. What challenges do you see industry facing at the moment?

The semiconductor industry for optical sensors is steadily growing over the past years and it is forecasted to grow also in the future. The demand for systems automation is driving for new applications requiring new and better sensors systems. The basic technologies are available, and the on-going developments will help in closing the gaps for specific requirements. Furthermore, the innovation efforts will continuously increase the sensing quality and efficiency, enabling further application.

The wafer capacity, both at 200mm and 300mm, will sustainable increase, feeding the market request. Political situation evolution, economic trend and players competition may influence the equilibrium among the different actors, foundries, silicon manufacturers, users, but this will common to the overall semiconductor industry, not specifically to the optical sensors technology.

Q. Tell us more about yourself and company?

I’m Roberto Bez, Vice-President of R&D in LFoundry, that I joined in February 2015. I started my career in the semiconductor industry in 1987 in the Central R&D of STMicroelectronics. The main topics I worked on were the device physics, characterization and modelling, and the Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) technologies, where I contributed to the development of different memory architectures, i.e. NOR, NAND and Phase-Change Memory (PCM). In March 2008, I joined Numonyx as Fellow, driving the development of the PCM and other alternative NVM technology. From April 2010 to January 2015, I have been with Micron as Fellow and as Process Integration Director in the Process R&D. I received the degree in Physics from the University of Milan, Italy in 1985. I have authored or co-authored more than 140 publications and presentations in scientific and technical journals and international conferences and of 60 patents on different microelectronics topics. I have been member of few Technical Committees, like IEDM or ESSDERC. Currently I am member of the Scientific Advisory Board of NamLab, Dresden, Germany. I have been Contract Professor in Electron Device Physics at the University of Milan and Lecturer in Non-Volatile Memory Devices at the University of Padua, Polytechnic of Milan and University of Udine.

From the heart of ancient Europe, LFoundry provides innovative solutions that reach all around the world, breathing life into our customers’ visions. Fully committed to finding the best solutions to satisfy every specific necessity, LFoundry creates innovation to bring our partners’ projects to life. Our leading and highly specialised foundry has an advanced 200mm manufacturing fab and proprietary technologies at 150 and 110 nm nodes, with MPW and MLM services available. We provide special capabilities and know-how for CMOS Image Sensors through CIS optimised processes down to 90nm, as well as Back Side Illumination technology. We also provide excellent technology support for Optoelectronics such as SiPM, SPAD, X-Ray and Smart Power and a vast range of applications for the automotive, industrial, medical, security, science and space imaging industries.