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Mimicking Nature once more

Researchers at Sony have been able to manufacture a curved CMOS sensor with a bit of biomimicry that simplifies the lens system and support higher sensitivity.
The eyes of animals are curved and the retina, the part acting as light sensor, follows the curvature. The mechanics of the eye is simpler than the one you see in a camera lens, thanks to this curvature (of course the alteration to the shape of the eye ball results in difficulties in vision, something we call myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia…).
They have been able to create the curved CMOS sensor using a bending machine they invented. After the bending the back of the sensor is covered in ceramic to stabilise the curvature. According to the researchers they can achieve a curvature similar to the one of the retina in the human eye.  
So far all CMOS sensors have been planar. The curvature makes it possibile to decrease the curvature in the lens system which in turns makes it possible to reduce distortion and increases the amount of light that can reach the sensor. They measured an increase of 1.4 times the amount of light reaching the center of the sensor and twice the amount of light reaching the edges of the sensor (the periphery of the sensor, because of the geometry of the lens, always gets less light, which creates the "vignetting" phenomena).
An added benefit of the curved geometry is an increase in the band gap between the pixels, which results in a decrease in dark currents, flow of electrons that occur  between neighbour pixels causing noise in the image.
Sony has manufactured the CMOS sensor in two sizes, one 43mm, similar to a full frame digital camera, and the other 11mm that can easily fit in a smartphone.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. He's currently the Chair of the Symbiotic Autonomous Systems Initiative of IEEE-FDC. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and up to September 2018 he was the Head of the EIT Digital Industrial Doctoral School. Previously, up to December 2011, he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books. He writes a daily blog,  http://sites.ieee.org/futuredirections/category/blog/, with commentary on innovation in various technology and market areas.