Canon Inc. announced today that it has successfully developed the world’s largest CMOS image sensor, with a chip size measuring 202 x 205 mm (7.95” x 8.07”). The sensor is capable of capturing images in one one-hundredth the amount of light required by a professional-model digital SLR camera due to its expanded size enabling greater light-gathering capabilities. Potential applications for the new high-sensitivity CMOS sensor include the video recording of stars in the night sky and nocturnal animal behavior.
At 202 x 205 mm, the newly developed CMOS sensor is among the largest chips that can be produced from a 12-inch (300 mm) wafer, and is approximately 40 times the size of Canon’s largest commercial CMOS sensor such as the 21.1 megapixel 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor employed in the company’s EOS-1Ds Mark III and EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR cameras.
In the past, enlarging the size of the sensor resulted in an increase in the amount of time required between the receiving and transmission of data signals, which posed a challenge to achieving high-speed readout. Canon, however, solved this problem through an innovative circuit design, making the realization of a massive video-compatible CMOS sensor possible. Additionally, by ensuring the cleanest of clean room environments during the production process, the sensor minimizes image imperfections and dust.
The increased size of the new CMOS sensor allows more light to be gathered thus enabling shooting in low-light environments. The sensor makes possible the image capture in one one-hundredth the amount of light required by a 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor, facilitating the shooting of 60 frame-per-second video with a mere 0.3 lux of illumination. A lux is the amount of light approximate to a full moon overhead at tropical latitudes. 0.3 lux is approximately the light from a full moon on a clear night.
No word from Canon about resolution, pricing, or how they plan to use this sensor.