2008 Poster Sessions : Submicron Pixels for Multi-Aperture Imaging

Student Name : Keith Fife
Advisor : Abbas El Gamal
Research Areas: Artificial Intelligence, Computer Systems, Graphics/HCI, Information Systems
A Multi-Aperture (MA) image sensor is designed with an array of apertures integrated onto a single chip. Each aperture contains its own local sub-array of pixels and image forming optics. By focusing the integrated optics onto an image plane formed by an objective lens in a region above the MA imager, the apertures capture overlapping views of the scene. The correlation and redundancy between apertures, along with computation, provide several new capabilities. The most notable feature of this design, which motivates the use of submicron pixels, is that a depth map of the scene may be extracted along with the image. The accuracy in the depth calculations depends on estimating the locations of features within each sub-array of pixels. The positions of features rather than the features themselves may be estimated to resolution higher than a diffraction or aberration limited lens can provide. Furthermore, very high resolution sensors may be made possible because the arrays of pixels may be disjoint. This allows flexibility in readout and correction for manufacturing. Color performance is improved as neighboring pixels all contain the same filter. This design is also useful for close-proximity imaging where the objective lens can be eliminated in order to produce a flat imaging system.

Keith Fife is a currently a Ph.D. student in the department of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. He received his B.S. and M.Eng. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1999. He won the MIT 6.270 robot competition and an EE departmental award for his master's thesis. His work and research has led to several patents in imaging devices, circuits and systems. After finishing at MIT, he co-founded an image sensor company to develop solutions for consumer and automotive imaging markets. One product was recognized as "Best of CES" in 2001 and as "World's Thinnest Camera" by Guinness World Records in 2002. Later, he returned to graduate school to work on devices and architectures for new imaging systems. His latest research includes a Multi-Aperture image sensor chip which makes use of submicron pixels for several applications including 3D imaging.