Panasonic has created micro color splitters, which split the light directed at image sensors to create bright images in low-light situations. This both eliminates the needs for color filters and boosts the color sensitivity two-fold when compared to your average image sensor with color filters. This could have a positive impact on mobile device cameras and similar devices, which are notoriously poor in low-light settings.
The color filters used by conventional sensors block between 50 and 70% of the ambient light, preventing it from reaching the sensor. With the micro color splitter, this issue isn’t present, and images come out exceptionally vivid and colorful. According to the announcement, only half the ambient light is needed for this method than with regular sensors.
Micro color splitters are not limited to certain sensors, and can be used with both CMOS and CCD sensors. The splitters are designed by passing light through a highly-refractive and transparent “plate” that splits the colors via diffraction. According to Panasonic, this is “exploiting” the wave-like properties of light.
The vivid color reproduction is achieved not only via the high sensitivity, but also via algorithms that process the signals of detectors. The development is comprised of 16 international patents and 21 Japanese patents, some of which are still pending.