Panasonic Corporation recently developed a new CMOS image sensor based on avalanche photodiodes (APDs). By using avalanche photodiodes, Panasonic obtained 1000 times multiplied electric signals which help to generate sharp color image even in dark places without the need to increase exposure time.
Photoelectrons of conventional image sensors may fall below the noise level in dark environments. This is the reason that it requires the imaging under illumination of a near-infrared light source and imaging using photo multipliers.
However, both near-infrared light sources and photo multipliers have their own drawbacks. This new development has overcome the challenges and has advantages of providing highly sensitive color imaging and having wide dynamic range. It allows for highly sensitive imaging through the multiplication of photoelectrons and realizes high-gradation color imaging without the need to increase the exposure time even in dark places.
The potential applications include surveillance cameras that require a wide dynamic range and industrial cameras that require ultra-high sensitivity.
More information can be found at: Panasonic Corporation