Kodak offers two new CCD chips to DR community

May 22, 2006

Kodak’s Image Sensor Solutions (ISS) group unveiled today two new digital sensors designed specifically for digital radiography. Evaluation units for the new chips are being made available to makers of end-user products so they can assess potential for the sensors’ use in their own proprietary systems.

Kodak's Image Sensor Solutions (ISS) group unveiled today two new digital sensors designed specifically for digital radiography. Evaluation units for the new chips are being made available to makers of end-user products so they can assess potential for the sensors' use in their own proprietary systems.

The new sensors, dubbed KAF-16803 and KAF-09000, use optical couplings to record the flashes of light that occur when x-rays strike scintillators, turning flashes into electrical signals that are processed into radiographs.

The new 16-million pixel KAF-16803, with its 9-micron pixel size, offers about 20% better sensitivity and about a third less noise than the current KAF-16801 image sensor. Antiblooming features protect against image artifacts that can appear, for example, when performing a lateral radiograph of a large patient. In this case, the overexposure that occurs along the back can bleed into the spine when using the KAF-16801.

The 9-million pixel KAF-09000 offers this same protection against blooming while featuring a larger pixel size of 12 microns. The larger pixels gather more data. As a result, the chip delivers greater sensitivity: about three times greater than the KAF-16801. This increased sensitivity offers users the potential switch from a cesium iodide screen to less-costly options such as a gadolinium oxide screen or a lens assembly for coupling the scintillator to the CCD chips.

The gain in sensitivity, however, comes at the expense of resolution, said Keith Wetzel, ISS North American sales manager.

"With the KAF-09000, we essentially traded resolution for sensitivity and moved from 16 megapixels to 9 megapixels," he said.

The higher resolution found on the KAF-16803, due to the smaller pixel size, is counterbalanced by less sensitivity.

Offering the two chips provides customers the opportunity to custom pick the chips they want for different purposes, Wetzel said.

The new sensors share the same package and "pin-out" configuration as the current KAF-16801 device, which has been built into several different DR devices now on the market. This makes it easy for end-product manufacturers to switch from older to newer components.

ISS develops, manufactures, and markets image sensors utilizing CCD and CMOS technologies for applications in satellite and medical imaging, as well as digital cameras and machine vision products. This business unit is a multivendor supplier, which competes for business from different Kodak divisions despite being part of the Kodak family.

"There is no mandate that any business in Kodak use our products. Similarly, there are no restrictions on us in selling those products outside the corporation to anyone who might be interested in them," said Michael DeLuca, marketing segment manager for professional and applied imaging. "If you see a CCD-based system with more than 4.5 line pairs per millimeter of resolution, it is probably using our 16-megapixel sensor."

Kodak DR products do not include the KAF-16801, but several high-profile DR products do, namely ones from Swissray and Imaging Dynamics.