Electronic Design

Image-Sensing Chip Boasts Eight Times The Resolution Of Digital Cameras

The creation of an image-sensing chip capable of capturing digital images with a resolution of 4096 by 4096 pixels has been announced by Foveon Inc. This level of resolution is twice that of 35-mm film and eight times that of average consumer digital cameras. Foveon also projects production costs that are up to 10 times less than the competition.

Measuring just 22 by 22 mm, the image-sensing chip has an estimated ISO speed of 100. It also features a dynamic range of 10 stops. Additionally, with an integrated fully electronic shutter, speeds are currently quoted from 2 seconds down to 1/8000 of a second.

The 16.8-Mpixel Foveon chip is based on a 0.18µm CMOS pro-cess. Image sensors built with CMOS technology generally consume less power and can accommodate more of a camera's functions on a single chip.

CMOS has produced low-quality images in the past. Consequently, most high-end digital cameras have relied on image-sensing chips produced by the costly charged couple device (CCD) manufacturing process. Foveon, however, claims to have revised the CMOS process to produce high-quality images at low cost.

The company projects that, within the next 18 months, the chip will be used in high-quality professional applications. These should include including cameras, film scanners, medical imaging, and museum archiving. Contact the company for pricing and availability information.

Foveon Inc., 3565 Monroe St., Santa Clara, CA 95051; (877) 4-FOVEON; www.foveon.net.

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