Photographers have paid tribute to Dick Merrill, the co-inventor of the Foveon X3 imaging sensor who has died after a long illness.

Merrill, who was not yet 60, co-invented the technology in the United States alongside Dick Lyon.

A Sigma Imaging (UK) spokesman today told Amateur Photographer: ‘Dick Merrill was instrumental in bringing the concept of the X3 sensor to fruition… He leaves behind a highly accomplished team of engineers at Foveon who will continue to develop his innovative ideas. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this time.’

Launched in 2002 the Foveon X3 direct image sensor first appeared in Sigma?s 10.2-million-pixel SD9 digital SLR.

The silicon in the X3 sensor filters different light wavelengths using a three-layer system similar to that used in colour film.

A 14.1MP-version of the sensor is used in Sigma?s current SD14 DSLR and DP1 high-end compact camera.

The technology will also be incorporated into the SD15 and DP2 cameras, which are due out next year. We are also expecting a ?DP3? model to include a Foveon sensor at a date yet to be announced.

Polaroid?s 4.5MP X530 compact also featured a Foveon X3 sensor.

Paying tribute to his friend, Laurence Matson wrote in an online blog: ?Dick was a warm and wonderful person and someone who took great pleasure in his passion and the photographic images it provided. In many ways he was the spirit within Foveon??

The sensor?s pixels are able to record red, blue and green light individually. Light passes through a series of three layers in the silicon, covering each pixel to record different levels of intensity from each of the three colours.

At its launch, its developers hailed the ability of each pixel to transmit three times the amount of information of a normal CCD or CMOS senor by using three photo sensors instead of one.

In 2005, the technology earned Foveon the Royal Photographic Society?s Progress Medal.

To read more tributes visit

To see how the BBC reported the invention in February 2002 visit