Longer-term monitoring is facing similar challenges to glucose sensing in diabetes. The need for chronic chemical sensors is critical. The ultimate goal is the development of solutions corresponding to an artificial pancreas.
Cardiac therapies are focusing on ultra-miniaturization of existing devices. The goal is to eventually eliminate the leads, thereby simplifying cardiac surgery, which is currently a very invasive procedure. In addition, there is a push for instrumenting stents with miniaturized technology to add diagnostic capability to these widely-used devices.
The CMOS image sensor business is still one of the fastest growing segments of the semiconductor industry due to cell phone cameras and other digital-imaging applications. The cell phone camera adoption rate is expected to be approximately 90% for 2009, and 3G mobile technology is accelerating the utilization of multiple cameras per cell phone. Other digital imaging markets include traditional digital still cameras (DSCs) and camcorders, as well as emerging markets such as web cameras, security cameras, automotive cameras, digital-cinema cameras, and gaming.
The resolution and miniaturization races ongoing, and while the performance requirements stay constant, the pixel size continues to scale down. Pixel resolution over 10M are commercially available employing enhanced small-size pixels. New innovative technologies are constantly being developed in order to compete in this race. These technologies include advanced sub-100 nanometer CMOS image-sensor fabrication processes, backside illumination, digital optics, and wafer-level cameras. The importance of digital-signal-processing technology in cameras continues to grow in order to mitigate sensor imperfections and noise, and to compensate for optical limitations. The level of sensor computation is increasing to thousands of operations per pixel, requiring high-performance and low-power digital-signal-processing solutions. In parallel with these efforts is a trend throughout the image sensor industry toward higher levels of integration to reduce system costs.
Many new achievements occurred in 2010. High Dynamic Range (HDR) is (finally!) introduced in low-cost consumer imaging. High-speed low-power low-noise column-parallel ADCs are becoming a key technology for high-definition video imagers.
Many barriers must be overcome in order to maintain market growth in the image sensor industry. These challenges include better image quality, higher sensitivity, higher-sensor resolution, lower cost, higher data-transfer rate, higher system-level integration, lower power consumption, and 3D imaging. Backside illumination is becoming an indispensable technology for gaining the competitive edge in CMOS imagers, enabling increased market share.
The trends in emerging markets include lower-bandwidth communication for surveillance cameras, wider dynamic range and optical-communication functions for automotive cameras,