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Agilent Focuses on Pixel's CMOS Technology

Electronics equipment maker Agilent Friday said it will acquire bits and pieces of Pixel Devices International Inc. (PDI).

The Sunnyvale-based company is best known for developing complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) for high-speed, low-noise image sensors and cameras for use in industrial and biomedical systems.

PDI says its "active reset" technology can reduce noise by one or two orders of magnitude compared to traditional CMOS pixel technologies, enabling low-light imaging for embedded cell phone cameras or for high-speed industrial and biomedical camera applications.

In addition to the intellectual property and certain other assets, key employees of PDI are expected to join Agilent's Semiconductor Products Group, including PDI's chief technical officer and CMOS imaging pioneer Boyd Fowler.

Fowler holds seven patents in imaging technology and did some of the earliest work with programmable digital imaging chips.

"We look forward to joining forces with the industry leader in CMOS imaging," Fowler said in a statement. "We feel our technology can reach its full potential by leveraging Agilent's global strengths and market leadership position."

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Agilent said it will take advantage of PDI's technology to produce next-generation image sensors for a wide range of applications. Agilent said it has embedded its CMOS technology in more than 100 million devices for optical mice and PC cameras. The company said it is currently developing miniature camera modules to be embedded in wireless handsets. Agilent plans to use PDI's low-noise technology to enhance low-light imaging capability.

"The technological acumen that Boyd and his team bring to Agilent will enhance our position as the worldwide leader in CMOS imaging," said Agilent vice president Jason Hartlove. "We share the belief that CMOS image sensors can not only offer lower power consumption and easier integration, but can also produce superior image quality compared to charge-coupled devices."

The transaction is expected to close by mid-February. Financial details were not disclosed.