Seoul, South Korea-based pure-play foundry Dongbu Electronics and Korean fabless semiconductor provider Silicon File Technologies reported today they have teamed to develop a new process that can implement 5Megapixel CMOS image sensor (CIS) devices at the 130nm node.

In this process, instead of using seven or eight layers of copper wiring commonly used in processing wafers at the 130nm node, the new process deploys a three layer aluminum interconnect structure.

As a result, the companies explained that CIS devices implemented with the process are expected to cost less to produce without compromising performance.

Moreover, Silicon File said its shift from a 0.18-micron to a 130nm process is expected to result in further cost savings as more than 30 percent more CIS chips can be produced per wafer.
Dr. Jae Song, executive VP of Dongbu explained the 5Megapixel CIS process announced today was preceded by his company’s successful development of a 2Megapixel CIS process at the same 130nm node.

Song also said Dongbu is aggressively expanding its portfolio of intellectual property and design libraries, both through internal development and third parties, to make its CIS wafer processing technologies “second to none.”

In the CIS process, the distance between the photodiode and the micro lens (situated in the uppermost layer and through which light filters) has been reduced to less than 4-microns, making it the shortest distance in the industry, the company said. This compares to a 5-micron distance in CIS chips from the world’s largest CIS device manufacturer, Micron Technology Inc.

Moreover, an additional compatible process can be utilized to reduce leakage current to substantially offset dark current, perhaps the biggest obstacle in improving CIS chip image quality. This process enhances low light performance, thus putting CIS chip image quality on a par with the best CCD solutions.

Dongbu is targeting early 2008 to qualify a CIS process at the 110nm node for volume production.

Demand for 2Megapixel CIS devices is forecast to more than double from about 130 million units in 2006 to about 350 million units in 2007, while demand for CIS devices specifying 4 Megapixels or more are expected to command more than half of the entire market in 2009, Dongbu said.

Volume production of CIS devices using this new process is expected to begin during Q1 2007.