With Expanded Size Comes Greater Light-Gathering Capability, in Canon's "World's Largest" Sensor

As well as popping out news of a massive 120 megapixel sensor last week, Canon's technicians have today announced its biggest ever CMOS sensor—which measures 202 x 205 mm. That's about eight inches square.

As long as you can lift the thing and the huge camera it'll eventually find its way into, it's good news for those frustrating low-light situations—as Canon says its new sensor can capture images in "one hundredth the amount" of light currently needed. And why might you need a massive, low-light sensor? Canon says it'll be good for filming stars and nocturnal animals.

That's it, pictured on the left, with a normal 35mm full-frame sensor to the right. [Canon via Pbay]

TOKYO, August 31, 2010-Canon Inc. announced today that it has successfully developed the world's largest*1 CMOS image sensor, with a chip size measuring 202 x 205 mm. Because its expanded size enables greater light-gathering capability, the sensor is capable of capturing images in one one-hundredth the amount of light required by a professional-model digital SLR camera.

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.*2

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 possible the realization of a massive video-compatible CMOS sensor. Additionally, by ensuring the cleanest of cleanroom environments during the production process, the sensor minimizes image imperfections and dust.

Because the increased size of the new CMOS sensor allows more light to be gathered, it enables 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.

Potential applications for the new high-sensitivity CMOS sensor include the video recording of stars in the night sky and nocturnal animal behavior.

Through the further development of distinctive CMOS image sensors, Canon will break new ground in the world of new image expression, in the area of still images as well as video.