Before it became a brand of its own, Samsung’s ISOCELL was first a new kind of image sensor technology that aimed to solve the color crosstalk between pixels in a regular BSI (Backside Illuminated) sensor used in almost all digital cameras, including those on smartphones. That proved to be highly successful, at least in Samsung’s view, and it is now taking it to the next level with ISOCELL 2.0. This new iteration promises not only to improve light absorption but, in the long run, also allow for smaller pixels to be packed in larger amounts on the same sensor size.
Color crosstalk happens when light bleeds in between adjacent pixels. ISOCELL fixed that by isolating each pixel “cell”, hence the name, with metal barriers in between each one. While that worked, for the most part, the metallic material also absorbed some light that never reached the sensor beneath. As a result, only a percentage of the light that passes through pixels actually gets used in producing an image.
Samsung first fixed that problem by changing the metallic barrier into some new material with its ISOCELL Plus upgrade. However, that still left the lower part of the barrier using the same metallic material, which is now being solved with ISOCELL 2.0. That has been replaced with a newer and more reflective surface that further reduces wasting light. In short, each cell is able to deliver more of the light that it absorbs, increasing the light sensitivity of the sensor.
Since each pixel can now gather even more light than before, they can be shrunken down while still delivering the same amount of data as their bigger ISOCELL 1.0 predecessors. Smaller pixels mean more pixels can be crammed into an image sensor of the same size, increasing the pixel count and increasing the amount of light that can be captured without increasing the size of the sensor.
Samsung’s image sensors already boast some of the highest pixel counts in the industry, with a 108MP sensor already in distribution. ISOCELL 2.0 could hint that the company is planning to take that even further, perhaps making it into another numbers game again when it comes to smartphone cameras.