Canon has given us a look at their recent prototype that makes progress on low light performance. To say it's sensitive in low light is an understatement. Take a look at the couple of sample images they've released along with their sample video, showing how great it captures the night sky. It's quite remarkable to say the least.
Although it's just a prototype, it gives us such a clear look into the future. You can see a great video demonstrating the sensor here: Link
So what are the technical details behind the sensor that allow for such performance? Here is a part of their press release which talks a little more about it:
TOKYO, March 4, 2013—Canon Inc. announced today that the company has successfully developed a high-sensitivity 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor exclusively for video recording. Delivering high-sensitivity, low-noise imaging performance, the new Canon 35 mm CMOS sensor*1 enables the capture of Full HD video even in exceptionally low-light environments.
The newly developed CMOS sensor features pixels measuring 19 microns square in size, which is more than 7.5-times the surface area of the pixels on the CMOS sensor incorporated in Canon's top-of-the-line EOS-1D X and other digital SLR cameras. In addition, the sensor's pixels and readout circuitry employ new technologies that reduce noise, which tends to increase as pixel size increases. Thanks to these technologies, the sensor facilitates the shooting of clearly visible video images even in dimly lit environments with as little as 0.03 lux of illumination, or approximately the brightness of a crescent moon—a level of brightness in which it is difficult for the naked eye to perceive objects. When recording video of astral bodies, while an electron-multiplying CCD,*2 which realizes approximately the same level of perception as the naked eye, can capture magnitude-6 stars, Canon's newly developed CMOS sensor is capable of recording faint stars with a magnitude of 8.5 and above.*3
To see their full press release, you can go here: http://www.canon.com/news/2013/mar04e.html