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South Korean image-sensing chip enables 1-lux photography

Nilay Patel
05.22.07
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Taking photos and videos in low-light situations has always involved some kind of tradeoff: you can either crank up the ISO and reduce image quality significantly, use something like Sony's NightShot and add that alien green tint to everything, or trust your image stabilizer to go from wacky-blurry to just pretty-blurry. That might be about to change, though, as South Korea's state-owned Korea Electronics Technology Institute has announced a new image sensor chip that promises to take "vibrant photos" in extreme low-light conditions -- all the way down to 1 lux, which is the equivalent light output of a candle shining one meter away. Details are scarce, but the "single carrier modulation photo detector" chip is said to use some amount of nanotechnology and reportedly cost $10.5 million to develop. We haven't heard when the chip might hit the market, but the Korean government is expecting to make 2 trillion won ($2.1 billion) a year exporting this little guy in the future. We'd put our money on the home team, of course -- expect to see Samsung or LG release no-light cameras before the rest of the pack.

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