Panasonic doubles color sensitivity of digital camera sensors

By Jay Alabaster, IDG News Service (http://www.itworld.com)

February 04, 2013, 4:44 AM — Panasonic has developed a new way to drastically increase the color and light sensitivity of digital cameras including those used in smartphones.

The Osaka-based electronics manufacturer said Monday its method replaces the color filter arrays widely used in such devices to capture individual colors, using tiny prism-like color splitters instead. The company said the new method can double the color sensitivity of image sensors, leading to far brighter images under the same lighting conditions or similar image quality at half the light.

Most image sensors on the market detect only the intensity of light they are exposed to, and so must rely on filters to provide color information. Each pixel in a sensor sits under a tiny filter that lets through only a single color. In the widely used Bayer filter, light is filtered into red, blue and green, with green given half the total pixels and the remainder split between the other two colors.

But Panasonic said this filtering method blocks much of the light before it reaches the sensor pixels, letting only 25 to 50 percent through. The company’s “micro color splitters” use a super-thin transparent and refractive material to diffract light into combinations of white, red and blue, with no loss of light, which can then be translated back into standard colors mathematically.

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