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Sony to bring next gen sensors?

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Sony to bring next gen sensors?

Next generation multi-layered sensors seem to be close to reality with Sony’s latest patent, as the PlayStation maker appears to be ready to become a competitor to Sigma.

Sony might bring a new revolutionary image sensor to the market in the near future. A new patent has just surfaced these days, in which we can find a detailed plan of an interesting image sensor.

This image sensor is nothing like the Japanese company is currently offering. It has multiple layers, so it is more similar to Sigma’s Foveon sensors, that the PlayStation maker’s sensors based on the Bayer array.

Diagram of a version of Sony's new Foveon-like sensor.
Diagram of color sensitive layers with silicone substrates, found in the Sony patent.

Sony patents next-gen image sensor with multiple layers

In Sony’s patent application we discover that the sensor is built pretty similar to a three layer Foveon sensor. One difference is that it also uses infrared light as compensation for low-light situation.

The sensor is built in a light-incidence-on-deepness configuration, consisting of 7 separate layers:

  • First layer is sensitive to blue light wavelengths;
  • Third layer is sensitive to green light wavelengths;
  • Fifth layer is sensitive to red light wavelengths;
  • Seventh layer is sensitive to infrared light wavelength, which also acts as a sensor booster.

In between the four light sensitive layers, there are three silicone substrates that act as discharge regions and overflow buffers. These regions use pulsating voltage as correcting measures against sensorial aberrations. What this means it’s that the sensor is less subdued to light-wavelength crosstalk, thus to chromatic aberrations like image noise.

This also translates that there is less image processing needed. The sensor also has a magenta filter layer, positioned on top of it. The color filter actually aids color calibration by using the blue-infrared spectrum. It also maximizes contrast, being complementary to green.

It’s still questionable if Sony will go further with the plans, but on paper at least, the new design seems promising. The new sensor will most probably be incorporated in cameras no sooner than 2014, if it will enter production.

Sony is not the only one trying to solve the image noise problem. Toshiba is rumored to have filed a sensor patent, but instead of using light depth sensitive chips, like Foveon or Sony’s new one, it designed a new Bayer type sensor.

Well, it will be interesting to see if this sensor makes it to the market. For the time being, it remains an interesting concept, albeit you can never tell what will happen in the future.

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Sony to bring next gen sensors?