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Tiny Camera Sees Nonvisible Spectra

Tiny Camera Sees Nonvisible Spectra

A prototype camera chip that combines a machine-vision-grade image sensor with hyperspectral sensing will go a long way toward integrating spectroscopy into industrial vision applications.

Imec's system-on-chip device puts a set of spectral filters that are directly post-processed at the wafer level on top of a commercially available CMOSIS CMV4000 image sensor. The four-megapixel image sensor has a maximum frame rate of 180fps, or six times the basic rate of industrial machine vision inspection applications.

Multispectral or hyperspectral cameras combine spectroscopy and imaging to distinguish objects that cannot be identified separately with traditional red-green-blue imaging methods. But this functionality has traditionally been limited to cameras that are large, expensive, and slow, so they can't usually be used for time-critical or high-throughput applications such as high-speed industrial inspection.

In industrial machine vision and inspection, the advantage of gathering spectroscopy data could be applied to objects made of multiple materials that look similar, such as certain types of films and thin layers of materials on printed circuit boards, or products made of multiple metals and different types of composites. Since each material has a unique spectral signature, data can be gathered by the sensor and extracted for further analysis to identify defects in product inspection for quality control applications.

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