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Foveon

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Foveon designs and manufacturers color CMOS image sensors using the three-layer process they developed in which spectral separation is achieved by through use of the wavelength-dependent absorption property of silicon. 

Although Foveon was founded by Carver Mead with the idea of building a three-channel prism-based camera to be used in photographic studios, market forces directed them to take advantage of the layered technology developed by Dick Merrill at National Semiconductor, one of the Foveon initial investors and the fabricator of the first Foveon sensors. 

The first commercial layered sensor, the F7, was designed for and used by used by Sigma Photo in its SD-10 and SD-11 DSLR cameras.  Shortly afer introduction of the F7, Alternative Vision Corporation (AVC) became the first (and still only) Certified Value-Added Reseller for Foveon.  F7 was followed by F19, a smaller sensor used in a Polaroid-branded point-and-shoot camera and in an industrial camera made by Toshiba-TELI.  HanVision, a Korean camera manufacturer working in partnership with AVC, designed and built industrial cameras for both the F7 and the F19.  These were marketed until the F7 was replaced by the newer F13. 

The Foveon F13 was designed for and used by Sigma Photo in its SD-14 and DP-1 cameras and several subsequent models.  AVC currently sells the F13 worldwide.  It is also available in an industrial camera from Quest Innovations through AVC.  In 2008, Sigma bought Foveon for the original investors to assure a continuing supply of new layered sensors for its cameras.  The first of these new sensors, the F20, is used in the various Sigma Merrill models.  This sensor is not sold outside Sigma; due to the tight integration between the sensor electronics and the camera operation it is not suitable for industrial use. 

The technical details of the operation of the layered color-separation structure are covered in the color imaging pages of this website.