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New Image Sensor Boosts Digital Photos

Photonics.com
Feb 2002
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Feb. 18 -- The Foveon X3 image sensor starts a new era of digital photography, its manufacturer hopes.

"It represents a true breakthrough in digital photography, bringing significant advantages over all other CCD and CMOS image sensors," said Jim Lau, Foveon's CEO. In addition to better color resolution, the new technology integrates high-resolution still photography with professional-quality full-motion video within a single image sensor, enabling a new class of dual-mode still/video digital cameras.

The Foveon X3 is the first color image sensor that captures red, green and blue light at each pixel, resulting in sharper images, enhanced color, and freedom from unwanted "color rainbow" artifacts common in photographs from today's digital cameras. Foveon X3 image sensors detect color in a manner similar to that of color film. With film, different colors of light penetrate to different layers of photosensitive material, with each layer detecting a specific color. Using a similar concept, Foveon X3 image sensors consist of three layers of photo detectors embedded in silicon and are the first to detect three colors at every pixel location. With three colors to each pixel, image file sizes are reduced, making them easier and faster to transfer by E-mail.

Foveon's first image sensors are targeted for professional, advanced amateur and high-end point-and-shoot camera users. Additional Foveon X3 image sensors are being designed that are suitable for a variety of cameras, including digital still/video cameras, PDAs, cell phones, security cameras and fingerprint-recognition systems. The first camera that will use the Foveon X3 chip is the SD9 SLR digital camera made by Sigma Corporation. Photographs from the SD9 can be enlarged up to 30 inches, exceeding the quality of 35 mm film.



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