Another Nikon Backside Illumination Sensor (BSI) patent



Nikon has a new patent (US patent 9894305) for a Backside Illumination Sensor (BSI):

"An image sensor includes a first photoelectric conversion unit that converts light incident through a first opening to an electric charge, a second photoelectric conversion unit that converts light incident through a second opening which is smaller than the first opening to an electric charge, and a signal output wiring that outputs a first signal generated by the electric charge converted by the first photoelectric conversion unit and a second signal generated by the electric charge converted by the second photoelectric conversion unit. The second photoelectric conversion unit is disposed between the second opening and the signal output wiring."

Additional drawings:

shows focus detection areas assumed on the image-capturing plane set on the predetermined image forming plane of the exchangeable lens in the first embodiment

shows the color filter Bayer array adopted in the first embodiment

shows image-capturing pixels

shows focus detection pixels

Other Nikon BSI sensor patents:


Nikon patent for BSI CMOS sensor with Dual Pixel AF on-sensor focusing system (see also this related patent).


Another Nikon patent for a layered BSI sensor (P6048482).

Thanks Broxibear!

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  • Eric Calabros

    The first one is not new, its just renewal or update of the last year patent. I doubt Nikon use masking in their upcoming mirrorless.

    • marymig

      Yes, it’s actually stuff that was filed back in 2009.

  • A. F.O.

    some many patents in the last 12 months….lot’s of new cameras?
    probably not.

    • T.I.M

      Nikon like surprises, FA, F6, N8008, D800
      you just have to be patient….

  • HoneyBadger

    Patents, rumors blablabla, how about delivering something actually available to the consumer Nikon?! Either Nikon delivers a product this year that shows where the company is headed for the future or they will continue on their path into irrelevance.

    • Mike

      D750… still relevant. D850… hyper relevant. Camera sans mirror….. overhyped. So….. “What you talkin’ ‘bout Willis?”

  • Francisco Cabrita

    Very Good

  • marymig

    Not really new, the priority dates for this patent are back in 2009.

    • I guess they were just granted the patent which trigger another patent publication.

  • T.I.M

    An image sensor includes a first photoelectric conversion unit that converts light incident through a first opening to an electric charge, a second photoelectric conversion unit that converts light incident through a second opening which is smaller than the first opening to an electric charge, and a signal output wiring that outputs a first signal generated by the electric charge converted by the first photoelectric conversion unit and a second signal generated by the electric charge converted by the second photoelectric conversion unit. The second photoelectric conversion unit is disposed between the second opening and the signal output wiring.

    Of course, now that make sense, where is the aspirin?

  • animalsbybarry

    I have seen so many differrent Nikon sensor patents that I have to wonder if they have been filed just to confuse the competition about what Nikon actually intendeds to do

    Of all these many patents one may be the sensor Nikon intends to use and the others may just be to throw the competition off the track

    • jojo

      Patenting is partly about covering bases. Many of them don’t get used at all, or are further modified.

  • Spy Black

    I thought Sony created and patented BSI, and everyone just uses a license on it? Is Nikon just developing on top of the existing patenred technology?

    • Andrew

      RCA apparently is the first company to receive a BSI patent in 1981. Sony was the first to commercialize a low-cost consumer version of the technology in 2009 via their Xmor-R sensors. It was a major selling point for their camcorders.

    • jojo

      BSI is a general term. There are different ways of doing it; each new variant can be a different patent.

  • Andrew

    A highly relevant post for those who think that Nikon just walks up to the likes of Sony and takes off-the-shelf image sensors carte blanche.

    • PhilK

      Yep.

      Tho they still do not manufacture their own sensors, so they are still more exposed to sensor supply issues than competitors like Sony or Canon.

      On the upside, they are not constrained by the limitations of their own foundry, so they can shop for the manufacturer with the best tech at that moment.

  • The big news in this patent isn’t so much BSI as on-sensor focusing pixels. The phrase “focus detection” appears 97 times in the patent text.

    • PhilK

      Yes, but this is also described for an application in a mirrorless, interchangeable-lens camera with an electronic viewfinder.

      Sound familiar? 😀

  • PhilK

    What I like about this patent is that it is described as having an on-sensor phase-detect AF feature with “improved accuracy”, and its application is in a mirrorless, interchangeable-lens camera with an electronic viewfinder.

    The bottom line is: regardless whether this ends up being used in the new MILC, it seems to lay to rest the idea that any upcoming Nikon MILC will have poor AF, as Nikon has been working on a lot of native tech in this field.

    • J-Man

      Likely building on what they learned from the 1 series.

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