SCIEN and EE292E present "Quanta Image Sensors: Concept, Progress and Commercialization"

Quanta Image Sensors: Concept, Progress and Commercialization
Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 4:30pm
Prof. Eric Fossum (Dartmouth), Prof. Stanley Chan (Purdue), and Dr. Jiaju Ma (Gigajot Technology)
Abstract / Description: 

The Quanta Image Sensor (QIS), a photon-counting image sensor, counts each electron generated in the sensor chip and then applies computational imaging to create a gray scale image or extract other information. First proposed in 2005, the QIS has been implemented starting around 2015 by using a CMOS image sensor (CIS) based approach, CIS-QIS, and by using a single-photon avalanche detector (SPAD) approach, SPAD-QIS. Both are visible-light devices based on silicon. This talk will focus on the CIS-QIS developed at Dartmouth and being commercialized by Gigajot with computational imaging development at Purdue and Gigajot. The CIS-QIS device has been demonstrated with up to 20Mpixels per chip and does not use avalanche multiplication which allows for small pixels with low power dissipation.

The talk will start with the QIS concept including strategies for high dynamic range and photon-number resolution, as well as a review of the work at Dartmouth. A brief comparison with SPAD-QIS that permits fast timing resolution but with larger pixels and lower resolution will be made. Next, computational imaging approaches and results including high dynamic range and low-light neural-net image classification will be presented. Work underway at Gigajot including color imaging and potential commercial applications will then be discussed.


Eric R. Fossum is best known for the invention of the CMOS image sensor "camera-on-a-chip" while at the Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory now used in billions of cameras each year. He co-founded and led Photobit which was acquired by Micron. He was later CEO of Siimpel and then a consultant with Samsung Electronics. He joined the Dartmouth faculty in 2010 and also serves as the Director of PhD Innovation Programs and Associate Provost for Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer. In 2017 Dr. Fossum received the Queen Elizabeth Prize, considered by many as the Nobel Prize of Engineering "for the creation of digital imaging sensors," along with three others. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and is a Fellow of IEEE and OSA, among other honors.

Stanley Chan is an Associate Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. He received the B.Eng. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Hong Kong in 2007, and the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from UC San Diego in 2011. His research interests include computational photography, machine learning, and signal processing. His work is supported by NSF, AFRL, ARO, Intel, and other sponsors. At Purdue, he teaches undergraduate-level probability and graduate-level machine learning. He is currently writing an eBook Introduction to Probability for Data Science. He would appreciate feedback from readers. URL:

Dr. Jiaju Ma received his Ph.D. in Engineering Sciences in 2017 from Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College as the awardee of Charles F. and Ruth D. Goodrich Prize in recognition of his outstanding academic achievements. He co-founded Gigajot Technology, Inc. in 2017 to commercialize Quanta Image Sensor technologies. From 2017, he has been leading the technological advancement at Gigajot as Chief Technology Officer. He has authored and coauthored over 20 technical publications and holds more than 20 patents and patent applications.William T. Freeman is the Thomas and Gerd Perkins Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) at MIT, and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) there. He was the Associate Department Head of EECS from 2011 – 2014. Since 2015, he has been a research manager at Google Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts.