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Panasonic creates new sensor that doubles low-light image quality

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Panasonic creates new sensor that doubles low-light image quality

Panasonic has developed a new technology that is said to replace conventional CFA technology in image sensors, in order to allow better light transmission.

“Micro Color Splitters” is the name of Panasonic’s latest technology, that will replace the conventional color filter arrays found in image sensors. Currently, all cameras are based on color separation by absorption techniques, meaning that they need a RGB light filter on top of their sensors. However, the new color separation by diffraction technique will remove the need of a red, green, blue filter, thus allowing up to 100% light transmission.

Panasonic develops new image sensor technology based on Micro Color Splitters
Panasonic’s new technology allows better light transmission by replacing RGB filters with Micro Color Splitters

Micro Color Splitters for highly-sensitive sensors double low-light image quality

The company has achieved a technological breakthrough for image sensors by managing to split the light in a proper way. The technique exploits “light’s wave-like properties” and it allows the MCS to control light’s diffraction “at a microscopic level”.

According to Panasonic, the new Micro Color Splitters allow image sensors to capture twice as much light as conventional color filters, meaning that low-light photography will be visibly improved. Image sensors are based on the RGB Bayer array, where the light is separated by transmitting light to the corresponding sensor.

Low-light comparison between conventional filters and Panasonic's new Micro Color Splitters
Conventional low-light image using RGB filters versus Panasonic’s new Micro Color Splitters technology

The company claims that RGB technique blocks between 50 to 70 percent of the light before it even reaches the sensors. The new MCS technology will allow up to 100% of light to reach the detectors, therefore color sensitivity will be more than double than before.

Image quality has been improved in recent times because sensors are becoming more powerful and the size of the pixels has been decreased. However, the MCS technology will produce “vivid color images” even if 50% less light falls on the sensors.

Can this technology be implemented right away?

Yes, says Panasonic. The “micro color splitters” can replace all color filters in current sensors and they support both CCD and CMOS sensors. Furthermore, the new sensors can be manufactured using conventional semiconductor techniques and cheap, inorganic materials.

Panasonic has 21 patents in Japan and 16 other patents in the rest of the world regarding this technology. The company says that other patents are currently “pending”, therefore development can begin right now.

Either way, do not jump to conclusions for the time being. We believe that such sensors still have a long way to go before being viable for the consumer market. Remain close to Camyx for more information!

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Panasonic creates new sensor that doubles low-light image quality